Visual poetry

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Visual poetry is poetry or art in which the visual arrangement of text, images and symbols is important in conveying the intended effect of the work. Confusingly, it is sometimes referred to as concrete poetry, a term that predates visual poetry.

visual poetry

Some traditions of visual poetry were heavily influenced by Fluxus, which is usually described as being Intermedia. Intermedia work tends to blur the distinctions between different media, and visual poetry blurs the distinction between art and text. Another description of visual poetry would be multimodal visual communication. Whereas concrete poetry is still recognizable as poetry, being composed of purely typographic elements, certain types of visual poetry are much less text-dependent. The majority of visual poems incorporate text, but the text may have primarily a visual function. 'Vispo' is a common abbreviation for visual poetry.

There remains some debate regarding the distinction between concrete poetry and visual poetry. There are a number of views regarding the issue. One view is that visual poetry is synonymous with concrete poetry. A second view is that visual poetry is a type (or sub-category) of concrete poetry. A third view is that visual poetry has evolved into a visual form distinct from concrete poetry. This view is supported by work identified as visual poetry in which typographic elements are secondary to visual elements, are minimal, or in some cases are absent altogether from the work. And finally, a fourth view is that visual poetry refers to the entire history of poetry which includes visual (i.e. non-verbal) techniques, ranging from shape poems of the ancient Greek Alexandrian School to the pattern poems of the clergyman George Herbert to Apollinaire's Calligrammes to contemporary digital visual poetry. This fourth view is evidenced by anthologies published in recent years, such as The Last Vispo and A Global Visuage, and the existence of separate intranational traditions such as Brazilian visual poetry, Italian poesia visiva, and the Spanish poets collected in Poesía Visual Española (Antología incompleta).

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References[edit]

  • Willard Bohn: The Aesthetics of Visual Poetry, 1914-1928. University Of Chicago Press, 1993. ISBN 978-0226063256
  • Dick Higgins: Synesthesia and Intersenses: Intermedia. 1965, Originally published in Something Else Newsletter 1, No. 1 (Something Else Press, 1966). Also published as a chapter in Dick Higgins, Horizons, the Poetics and Theory of the Intermedia (Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois Univ. Press, 1984).
  • Litsa Spathi: Rail Track. 2008, Originally published by Fluxus Heidelberg Center, 2008
  • Crag Hill and Nico Vassilakis (editors): The Last Vispo Anthology: Visual Poetry 1998-2008. Fantagraphics, 2012. ISBN 978-1606996263

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