Not to be confused with poetry of ideas.Conceptual poetry or conceptual writing is a type of experimental literature or, more exactly, an umbrella term for a range of writing strategies (appropriation, détournement, erasure, extreme constraints, listing and documenting, rewriting, translation-as-writing, etc.) which were introduced by the historical vanguards, but used extensively especially since the '90s-2000s, with the advent of self-described conceptual writers in North America, the United Kingdom or the Scandinavian countries, extending the approaches of conceptual art firmly within the literary field, linked by theoreticians such as Craig Dworkin, Kenneth Goldsmith or Marjorie Perloff with the spreading of the broadband Internet and the usage of word processors.
The reader is often expected not to read linearly, but to ponder upon the concept of the book and the consequences of its actualization, as with a piece of conceptual art. The use of the term "poetry" should not imply adherence to the structures of lyrical poetry, but merely a connection with the tradition of avant-garde poetry and a sign of the fact that many conceptual writers publish within poetry-orientated small-press distribution networks (harking back to Fluxus and their Something Else press) and on print-on-demand presses, as opposed to the typical gallery system which sells expensive, limited-edition artist's books.
The term, sometimes, is still used informally with a broad and vague meaning ("cold", "technical" poetry, definition partly overlapping minimalism or posthuman poetry), while other times it may imply a variant of textualism or even be confused with a vague notion of hermeticism or poetry of ideas. A 2014 article published by Yigru Zeltil in Poesis International presents both the international context and the Romanian article, while Elena Vlădăreanu was the first to intersect with this topic in a 2008 text. A common thread in both of these articles is the sharp contrast between the conservative expectations of the literary critics (who tend to disparage the "non-literary" excesses of authenticism and dismiss experimental strategies as gimmicks) and the aesthetic challenges posed by conceptual writings.
While a conceptualist micro-scene might be identified, for instance, among the groups behind the publishing house frACTalia, focused on various kinds of experimental or otherwise "marginal" literature, and the digital platform khora impex, there is no movement per se and some of the conceptualist techniques make brief appearances at different kinds of poets, as many of them no longer self-identify with any one trend or distinct movement.
Yigru Zeltil's ongoing anthology project, O_O, gathers many small texts from both classics and "minor" writers which may now be described as forms of conceptual writing or concrete poetry, up until today.