Material poetics is not a new concept. The last century has seen the boundaries between creative genres dissolve, allowing attentiveness to materiality — once the exclusive concern of sculpture and craft — to pervade and tantalise less tangible practices. The development of a digital realm has not destroyed materiality, as originally feared, but served to foreground it; and the collaboration that can take place between digital and analogue, verbal and visual, is what drives this issue.
Writers such as Kristen Kreider (Poetics and Place: The Architecture of Sign, Subject and Site, 2014), Lyn Hejinian (The Language of Inquiry), James Stuart (The Material Poem), Astrid Lorange (On Language as Material), and others deal with language, its material properties, its affinitive qualities. Where creative practitioners in general work with physical, tangible materials – everything from paper and paint through to the body – writers typically have nothing but language as their material. However, words, phrases, sentences and lines have their own tactility and affordances, and this is explored in the special section in this issue – ‘The Poetic Line’, edited by Owen Bullock. His introduction provides a context to the line, its property and its potential; and the contributions to that section, as well as contributions by poets Geoff Page and Jackson to the main section, exemplify the material practices of poets.