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How to Create Concrete Poems on a Computer

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Concrete poetry uses the actual shape that the poem forms on the page to communicate the ideas, thoughts and feelings of the poet and influence how the reader reads the poetry. The computer is a useful tool in creating this kind of poetry as paragraphs can be shaped and reshaped with ease and the text can be automatically justified to fit a given shape. This makes the process quicker and easier to experiment with.

Write your poem in a word processor. Choose an image you want to shape the poem into. This should be something that expresses an idea from the poem. The quickest way to produce a concrete poem is to use the "Tab" key, altering the justification and line spacing of the text until you have the poem in a shape you like. For more precise shaping of the poem, use a custom text box.

Create a custom text box in Photoshop by drawing out a path to fit the text into. These can be created using the shapes on the menu bar next to the "Pen" tool or the "Pen" tool itself.

Click the arrow beside the shapes on the menu bar for a more extensive menu of shapes. Create a shape with the "Pen" by drawing a series of dots, which the computer will join together with a line. Remember to join up the ends of the line. Use the legs that stick out from the points when you click on them to bend the lines. Draw around a photograph or picture to get a text box the same shape.

Use the "Text" tool, which is a capital T, and click inside the path you have created. Copy and paste your poem into the path and it will fit the text to the box.

Perform similar actions in Quark XPress but draw your shape with the "Text Box" tool, which is a capital A in a box. Click the arrow in the top corner of this box to bring out the sub-menu. Use the A with a pen beside it to draw a custom text box.

Paste your poem into the box you have drawn. Click inside the box and click on "Edit" in the menu bar. Click "Edit H & J's." This allows you to edit hyphenation and justification within the text box. Alter the settings for word spacing and length of words that can be hyphenated until you are happy with how the text appears.

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