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Visual poetry: what it is and examples

The interpretation of narrative genres in their pictorial or visual version is a fascinating matter of analysis, since there is an artistic need to evoke specific images through letters. This results in an instant representation of the meaning of the text. In this sense, visual poetry is an experimental method with many aspects to explore.

Now, where does visual poetry come from? Visual interpretation translates into urban art, which is inspired by literature, paintings from books and visual poetry, in which plastic art prevails over letters and vice versa, giving infinite and unique results. To discover more about visual poetry: what it is and examples , at OneHOWTO we recommend that you continue reading this article.

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What is visual poetry

The artistic current of futurism, from the beginning of the 20th century and predecessor of cubism, was a style immortalized by artists of the stature of Bracque or Picasso. The main purpose was to reinvent universal history, using more exalted colors; and, on the other hand, modernity as a key avant-garde factor, thus seeking new ways of expression.

This pictorial trend had an influence on the ways of conceiving poetry. Thus, it resulted in what is currently known as visual poetry. Now, what is visual poetry? It is an experimental form with clear references to Ancient Greece , later replacing its calligrams with conservative narrative forms.

As far as visual poetry is concerned, images, plastic art or pictorial forms are responsible for defining a poem and vice versa, thus becoming a curious, very visual hybrid. A collage made with verses from a piece of writing or an image with the capacity to define the intention of a poem on its own are some examples of visual poetry.

visual poets

The first references to visual poetry in Spain are from the 17th century. Gerónimo González Velázquez was one of the precursor poets, with examples such as the silent Romance to the Immaculate Conception. The poem was introduced as a legend with some attached hieroglyphs, making it a more visual reading and with diffusion to various social classes. In this way, it was transformed into an instantaneous and didactic narrative modality.

In the 20th century, futuristic avant-gardes and cubism resulted in other examples of visual poetry. In this sense, the urban character stands out, as is the case of Joan Brossa and the musical band of the Zaj Group , which was made up of lyricists, composers and plastic artists who accompanied their concerts in the 1960s with objects or staging. on theater stage.

Where does visual poetry come from?

Visual poetry flourished in the 1970s, but its origins are earlier. Visual poetry has been found already in ancient times (300 BC), to understand it, it is necessary to go back further, in classical Greece . In this historical period, there were writers of different genres and types, among which was visual poetry.

The calligram known as “The Egg” is a good example. Its author is Simmias de Rhodes and it is a poem based on the characteristics of visual poetry. Another example is the poem “Hat”, by the French artist Rabelais .

These two poets created a poem with a silhouette of the name that defined it. That is to say, “The Egg” was written inside that silhouette just as it happened with “Sombrero”. The verses, the words and the letters played to make an ideal composition, without leaving anything out of the final set. Furthermore, the poem still made sense and was well constructed.

For all these reasons, visual poetry arises from calligrams , whose most outstanding authors are from the 19th century: Stéphane Mallarmé and Guillaume Apollinaire. Both are considered as the modern authors who represent the calligrams, that is, the antecedents of visual poetry.

Types and examples of visual poetry

To understand what visual poetry is, it is necessary to know its types and examples, since explaining this kind of poem without an image is complicated. That said, you need to know that visual poetry doesn’t have just one form. There are different genres classified according to the use of visual elements, such as the following:

letters and drawings

In this example of visual poetry, the images are as important as the words of the poem and are related to each other in most cases.

typographic visual poetry

Genre characterized by the use of letters to make original creations with the ability to capture the attention of readers thanks to the distribution of letters in a certain way or by giving color to those that are intended to be promoted.

lettering and painting

This is a type of visual poem that is between the image and the words, but instead of using a photograph, it opts for the painting created for the visual set specifically, or uses another to give it a poetic focus.

draw with letters

It is based on calligrams , so it is the purest visual poetry that exists.

lyrics and photography

It differs from painting and images because it uses real photographs of objects , that is, it does not use pictorial creations of objects or drawings. Therefore, they are more realistic and have more power to impact the reader.


It is a set of photographs placed in a way to create a composition . It can become a form of visual poetry by combining with words.


Visual poetry on video is clearly a modern trend on the rise, especially on social networks. It is based on animation to achieve greater consistency in the designs.

If you liked this article on Visual Poetry: what it is and examples, we recommend that you read the following posts about:

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