Visual Performance of the Poetic Text

Johanna Drucker

in Close Listening

Published in print July 1998 | ISBN: 9780195109924
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199855261 | DOI:
Visual Performance of the Poetic Text

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  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)


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The idea of performance in poetry is conventionally associated with a live or recorded reading which provides effective dimensions to a poetic work. But a visual performance of a poetic work on a page or canvas, as a projection or sculpture, also has the qualities of an enactment, of a staged and realized event, in which the material means are an integral feature of the work. Visual performance of a poetic work has no necessary temporal, spatial, or social relation to the author or artist. This chapter presents the strategies for visual performance used in the early 20th-century poetics, where every poet put long lines of words on a page. The most obvious and established tradition of visual poetry, however, is that of the shaped or iconic work. Expressive visual means such as typography, calligraphy, painting, or collage were used in pieces whose visual features were neither iconic nor orchestral.

Keywords: performance in poetry; poetic work; visual performance; strategies for visual performance; visual poetry; expressive visual means

Chapter.  9462 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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