What is visual poetry?

Visual poetry is attractive

The visual or pictorial interpretation of any narrative genre has always caused me a certain fascination, perhaps because the need to evoke specific images through letters results in a much more instantaneous representation.

Pictures arising from books, urban art inspired by literature and also visual poetry, an experimental form in which plastic art prevails over letters (or vice versa), acquiring results as singular as they are infinite. You want to know what is visual poetry and discover some examples?

The contours of poetry

A simple notebook can be a beautiful visual poetry

Futurism It was an artistic trend that emerged at the beginning of the XNUMXth century and that would precede Cubism, a style that was immortalized by artists such as Picasso or Bracque whose objective was to reinvent the history of the world through a more exalted use of colors or modernity as a key element of an avant-garde looking for new ways of expression.

This pictorial current also influenced the ways of conceiving poetry, resulting in what is known as visual poetry, an experimental form with clear references in an Ancient Greece in which its calligrams would be replaced shortly after by more conservative narrative forms.

In visual poetry plastic art, images or pictorial forms define the poem and vice versa, becoming a curious hybrid and, above all, very visual. Examples can range from a collage elaborated from the verses of a writing to an image that by itself defines the intention of the poem.

In Spain the first references to visual poetry took place in the seventeenth century, with examples such as the Silent Romance to the Immaculate Conception by Gerónimo González Velázquez. The poem, introduced as a legend of the hieroglyphs that accompanied it, not only made reading more visual, but its dissemination to different social classes made it a more instantaneous and even didactic narrative modality.

Although the examples were counted throughout the following years, finally in the XNUMXth century the avant-gardes of Futurism or Cubism would result in examples of visual poetry such as the urban one by Joan Brossa or the musical band Grupo Zaj, made up of composers, lyricists and visual artists who in the 60s accompanied the music of their concerts with the use of objects or the performance of small theaters.

After the arrival of the XNUMXst century and the consolidation of new technologies, visual poetry has also become known as cyberpoetry or even electronic poetry, given the many possibilities it offers on social networks and, especially, among illustrators or graphic designers. Hence, the art of the instantaneous that is so prevalent today has found one of its best exponents in this "plastic" poetry, offering endless possibilities.

Visual poetry is experimental, playful, creative. A peculiar relationship between the visual and the letters in which both expressions overlap one another until acquiring a result that is sometimes shocking, others more intimate and a few even opportunistic. Of course, when it comes to art, no one ever has the last word.

The origins of visual poetry

Although it is in the twentieth century (specifically around the 70s) where visual poetry seems to begin to flourish, the truth is that this is not its origin. It was used a lot before. In fact, we are talking about very ancient times, such as 300 BC. How can it be? To do this, we have to move to the Classic Greece.

At that time, not only the greats triumphed. There were writers of many types and genres. And visual poetry was one of them.

To cite an example, you can see the calligram «The egg». It is Simmias of Rhodes and it is a poem that follows the characteristics of visual poetry. But it really is not the only one we can cite. Another, and not from Greece but from France, is Rabelais (from 1494 to 1553) with his poem "Sombrero".

What were these two poets doing? They wanted to create a poem with the silhouette of the name that defined it. For example, in the case of the egg, the whole poem was inside that silhouette. The same with the hat, or with any other image.

Thus, the words, the verses, the lyrics… everything played to create the perfect composition and that nothing was left out of the final set. But it also had to make sense, and it had to be a well-constructed poem.

The antecedents of visual poetry

As we have seen before, visual poetry arises from calligrams. This is really the background and how it has evolved to what you now know as such. But the authors were also, in their own way, the antecedents of this visual poetry.

For example, two authors from the XNUMXth century stand out, Guillaume Apollinaire, and Stéphane Mallarmé. Both are considered the modern authors representative of the antecedent of visual poetry, that is, of calligrams. In fact, there are works of his that you may have seen often and thought they are "modern" when in fact they are a few years old. They are "The Eiffel Tower" or "The Lady in the Hat."

Visual poetry in Spain

In the case of Spain, visual poetry had its heyday in the 60s, time in which many authors emerged who are still active today, although many of them have died. Almost all of them started in this literary genre as a form of political vindication and social criticism. What they wanted was to draw attention to the order that had been established and that it was no longer correct.

Names such as Campal, Brossa, Fernando Millán, Antonio Gómez, Pablo del Barco, etc. are some examples of visual poets who sought to change the world with more original creations that not only entered through the ears, but also through the eyes.

Many of them are still active, and others are starting with this literary trend. The works of Eduardo Scala, Yolanda Pérez Herraras or J. Ricart are known. There is really a long list and social networks themselves have made visual poetry proliferate since there are many images and compositions that are making what began years ago with calligrams evolve.

Types of visual poetry

Anything can be used to create a beautiful visual poetry

Visual poetry is not really unique. It has different genres that classify it according to the visual elements used. In this way, you can find the following:

Visual poetry only typographic

In this case, it is characterized by using only the letters to form original creations, which capture the attention of readers, either by distributing the letters in a certain way, or by giving color to those that want to be promoted, etc.

The one that combines letters and drawings

In this case, not only the words of the poem are important, but the images themselves, which, in many cases, are related to the words. For example, there is the image of a safety pin with the word separated in such a way that the pin bears the letters "missable" and the "Im" remains where the object is fastened.

The one that draws with letters (it is the purest visual poetry, since it is based on calligrams)

They are really the calligrams that gave rise to visual poetry. In fact, there are not so many who dare to do it due to the difficulties it entails, but it is still on the rise, especially using that of ancient poets and authors.

Combine letters and paint

We could say that it is a type of visual poem between image and words, but instead of using a photograph, it is a painting that comes into play, either created specifically for the visual set, or using some other and giving it that poetic touch.

Combine letters and photography

It differs from imagery or painting in that actual photographs of objects are used, not drawings or pictorial creations of those objects. Due to this, they are more realistic and have more impact when giving the reader or anyone who sees them another use to that object that they can have at home.

Make a collage

A collage is a set of photographs that are placed in a certain way to create a composition. Along with the words, it can be turned into a form of visual poetry (although in this case it is used more for advertising or commercial purposes).

Visual poetry on video

It is a relatively new trend but one that is booming, especially in social networks. It is based on animation to give more consistency to the designs.

The evolution of visual poetry: cyberpoetry

Same as the visual poetry evolved from calligrams, this has also given way to a new way of looking at poems. We talk about the cyberpoetry, that characterized by the use of digital media for creation and development. Thus, for example hypertexts, animation, three-dimensionality, etc. are used. and even something that has not yet been seen, but that already exists, the use of virtual reality.

Thus, visual poetry is more related to the visual arts or graphic design than to literature since the text itself is not as important as the visual of the whole.

What do you think of visual poetry?


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  1.   toni prat said

    Visual poetry for me is nothing more than poetry ... and poetry for me, it is that which has the ability to move people's conscious and unconscious, that stirs emotions and convictions and that surprises with its abstract eloquence and exquisite ...
    All of this condensed into a metaphor ...

  2.   Dino tomasilli said

    Visual poetry is "progressive garbage", it is something like "Men with a vagina" or "women with a penis". If society continues to allow itself to be inoculated by that poison, it will continue in its decline, now it turns out that not only is the denaturalization of poetry by creating "free verse" and pretending that everything that is vomited on paper is a poem, with feeling and with the form of a verse, but now they want to take away the character of writing, as well as the sexual identity of our children, the social structure based on the family, the artistic character in painting, sculpture and poetry, which when splashed by communism ceases to be poetry and becomes filth ... keep on like this, the great poets of the Spanish language will wallow in their graves every time a jury of self-proclaimed poets celebrates and rewards that rubbish that is written now, because no one dares to say The King is nakedooooo! Greetings «poets»

  3.   grunx said

    First of all, a big hug to my comrades in letters and images!
    (One has ripped from us to piece, for me who only reads the bible and in Latin the poor ...)

    To the others, a type of visual poetry that I think is especially readable, in:
    Blog. web content. net

    Thank you!! (and good face to bad-vibes, like that one ...)

  4.   Humberto Lisandro gianelloni said

    The poet is built with programs whose origins are remote and are relentlessly recreated ... hence the attempts to enter new proposals of his abundant and deep feeling is an inevitable necessity.
    The lec
    tor avid will choose from the offer the one that matches the vibration through which his life passes.