Question Sunday – Can Poetry Be a Visual Medium?



Bit of a continuation of last week’s question:

Can poetry be a visual medium? Is it always a visual medium, never a visual medium, or sometimes a visual medium?

My answer: It is a visual medium as long as it is being read on the page. The way words look will always…

Got this response in my ask box from one of my first followers (and one of the first I followed), snake-oil-lullaby. I thought it was a great response, and I learned some things, so I’m sharing it!

“In response to the Sunday question, I think poetry can be extremely visual. There’s three examples I can use from my background as a U.S. Marine, a graphic designer, and a newspaper editor.

1: In many Islamic countries, iconography is forbidden. To get around this, they will use Arabic Calligraphy to make art. Some of the most beautiful verses of the Quran are made far more poetic by the flowing strokes of a master calligraphist.

2: Typography is the arrangement of the letters on the page.  The fonts used and even the spaces between individual letters (tracking and kerning) can give a message more meaning and stress or enforce certain words. A prime example would be Tristen Tzara’s use of typesetting in his Dadaist Manifestos.

3: They’ve done studies on the size of type in newspaper print to determine the impact it has on the reader’s comprehension and how they react to certain variations (and even if their moods can be changed by the font and weight selected.)  I was gonna get more into that, but I didn’t.

So I would say that, yes. Poetry is a very visual medium, but like any art it goes beyond that, and channels something that we can’t really see.

Sorry if that was a bit lengthy, but that’s what I think.”

Question Sunday