Concrete Poetry — Scripture


Some people call concrete poems “shape poems,” which strikes me as a more accurate description because the words are arranged on the page to show the shape of the subject of the poem. In this way, a concrete poem is more purely visual than a traditional poem.

Paul B. Janeczko, A Kick in the Head

When I tried to make up my own concrete poem, all I could think of was a urinal and using yellow letters. Such is my life these days. I decided not to do that.

I often take scripture and put it in a more visual format — for my own sake. It helps me process and internalize.

And scripture is poetic, so I hope it qualifies as concrete poetry.

#1 Isaiah 59:1-2 “Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save… but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God.”

When I first read the verses, I thought of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam” in the Sistine Chapel and the space between the two hands. So I traced the hands and added in the verses. (Sorry, my handwriting is not the best.)

Isaiah 59:1-2

Isaiah 59:1-2

#2 Matthew 22:34-40 A lawyer asked Jesus, “Which is the greatest commandment?” Jesus gave a two-pronged answer. It made me think of 3-D glasses, one lens blue, the other red. Looking through just one lens doesn’t give us a good picture. We need both. So I drew this picture with that in mind.

Please remember, though, I’m really not an artist — and these were done for me. I never really intended to share them — so don’t judge my artistic abilities. 🙂

Matthew 22:34-40

Matthew 22:34-40

#3 James 2:14-26 “What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?… For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead.”

SCN_0008 (3)

James 2:14-26

Faith and works are intertwined. As I was pondering this, I started doodling out a rope of two strands: one faith, the other works. In this case, my own lack of artistic talent helped me to better understand the verse.

I started off with two tight strands, but somehow they drifted apart as I went down the page.

To me — and maybe I’m wrong because I really don’t know much about ropes — the tightly woven rope is stronger. The more our faith and our works are a part of each other, the better.


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