Clive Farahar Antiquarian Books - Rare and Antiquarian Books and Manuscripts

09 August 2016
The Riddle of Alan Riddle

Alan Riddell Poet, Artist and Journalist, was born of Scottish parents in Townsville, Australia in 1927.  He was educated in Scotland where he founded the Scottish Poetry Magazine Lines in 1952.  He worked as a journalist in Scotland, in England on the Daily Telegraph, and in Australia.  Alan Riddell’s first book The Stopped Landscape, a collection of traditional poetry – won a Scottish Arts Council prize in 1968.  He had his first one-man exhibition of Screen-Printed Concrete Poems, at the New 57 Gallery in Edinburgh in 1971.  His seminal books Eclipse, Concrete Poems 1963-1971, and Typewriter Art came out in 1972 and 1975.  His Concrete Poetry has been exhibited in many group shows, among them Celebration of Guillaume Apollinaire (ICA London 1968), Print Show (Gallery A. Sydney, 1969), Concrete Poetry (Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, 1970), Typewriter Art (New 57 Gallery, Edinburgh, 1973), Experiments in Visual Poetry (Morioka Gallery, Morioka, Japan, 1975) Alan Riddell died suddenly in 1977 aged 50.

Concrete Poetry is an Ancient Art.  The Greeks 2500 years ago arranged words and phrases into simple geometrical shapes, investing them with magical or mystical powers. It occurs in Asian Art, Manuscripts, and Magic Scrolls.  Examples occur in Western Culture, from George Herbert’s Easter Wings in the 17th century, to Lewis Carroll’s The Mouse’s Tail in the 19th century, where words are given an added visual dimension.  In the mid 20th century Concrete Poetry was seriously explored in Europe and pioneered in Great Britain by Alan Riddell.  His volume Eclipse was the first substantial one-man collection of Concrete Poems to be published.