Modern Visual Poetry

Modern Visual Poetry

Modern Visual Poetry

Modern Visual Poetry

Synopsis

"Known to the ancient Greeks as technopaigneia and to the Romans as carmina figurata, visual poetry has a long and fascinating history. A popular genre during the Early Middle Ages and the Renaissance, it fell into disrepute during the neo-Classical age and was neglected until the beginning of the twentieth century. Around 1914, it experienced a dramatic rebirth and began to interest poets and painters, who were intrigued by its endless possibilities and who have experimented with it ever since. Far from frivolous playthings, modern visual poems represent serious experiments. Together with other members of the avant-grade, the visual poets sought to restructure the basic vision of reality that they inherited from their predecessors. This statement describes contemporary visual poets as well who, like their earlier colleagues, strive to say things that are more meaningful in ways that are more meaningful." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

For all intents and purposes, visual poetry can be defined as poetry that is meant to be seen—poetry that presupposes a viewer as well as a reader. Combining visual and verbal elements, it not only appeals to the reader's intellect but arrests his or her gaze. In one sense, to be sure, every poem is designed to be seen, since the eye must process the words before the mind can interpret them. At least this is true of written poetry which, no matter how hard it seeks to transcend its condition, can never escape its material origins. In every instance, visual recognition precedes verbal comprehension. Even “sound poets,” who stress language's phonetic dimension to the exclusion of all else, who appeal to the ear rather than to the eye, generally follow a written script. Additional visual information is provided by the way a poem's lines are distributed on the page, which determines how the text will be read. In deciphering the written message, the reader proceeds according to both verbal and visual cues, which are structured in such a way that they complement each other. Although poetry is a linguistic construct, the way in which it communicates is influenced by spatial relations as well. In the final analysis, every poem, even a Shakespearean sonnet or an ode by Ronsard, possesses a visual dimension.

Where visual poetry differs from ordinary poetry is in the extent of its iconic dimension, which is much more pronounced, and in its degree of self-awareness. Visual poems are immediately recognizable by their refusal to adhere to a rectilinear grid and by their tendency to flout their plasticity. In contrast to traditional poetry, they are conceived not only as literary works but also as works of art. Although they continue to provide visual cues that aid in deciphering the text, they function simultaneously as visual compositions. Whether the visual elements form a rudimentary pattern or whether they constitute a highly sophisticated design, they transform the poem into a picture. As William Morris realized more than a hundred years ago, this transformation has profound implications. A prominent spokesman for the Arts and Crafts movement in England who revolutionized . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.