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Calligram in French by Guillaume Apollinaire describing and visually representing his lover. Parts of the face's image (such as the hat, eye, nose, mouth, neck) each use words associated specifically with that part.

A calligram is text arranged in such a way that it forms a thematically related image. It can be a poem, a phrase, a portion of scripture, or a single word; the visual arrangement can rely on certain use of the typeface, calligraphy or handwriting, for instance along non-parallel and curved text lines, or in shaped paragraphs. The image created by the words illustrates the text by expressing visually what it says, or something closely associated; it can also, on purpose, show something contradictory with the text or otherwise misleading.

Guillaume Apollinaire was a famous calligram writer and author of a book of poems called Calligrammes.

Visual artist Mirjam Polman makes calligrams in which hundreds, or even thousands of handwritten words are processed into wall decorations.


See also[edit]


  • Sonja A.J. Neef: Kalligramme. Zur Medialität einer Schrift. Anhand von Paul van Ostaijens "De feesten van angst en pijn". Amsterdam: ASCA Press 2000 [1]
  • Deme, Zoltan: Poem-miniatures. In: Chords of Scales, Globe Publish House 1995. Library of Congress No: 2003278749 [2]
  • Post-War Japanese Poetry (with lots of Japanese calligrams), Penguin Books, 1972.

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