Do you know what concrete poetry is?

  • Ian Hamilton Finlay, The World has Been Empty Since the Romans
    Ian Hamilton Finlay
    The World Has Been Empty Since the Romans

A concrete poem is a sculpture made of words, arranged in a certain style or shape to create a particular effect.

Ian Hamilton Finlay started as a poet and short-story writer and in the 1960s started using different materials to sculpt his words.

This work is seven metres long, and made of six pieces of Bath stone hanging from chains. Both the huge scale and jagged-edged stone conjure up the sense of an ancient ruin, as well as the Roman serif typeface. This is definitely a work of juxtaposition; it looks Roman but the text talks about an empty world after the Romans. Why do you think that is?

The World Has Been Empty Since the Romans is hanging in the Duveen Galleries at Tate Britain as part of the Ian Hamilton Finlay display, which is free and opens today, Monday 12 November.