Calligrammes, Guillaume Apollinaire | HoD

Calligrams! was what caught my attention this week! A series of text arranged in a manner that formed and reflected a thematically related visual/image. Executed through a myriad of ways; in a poem, a phrase, tiny bits of scripture or even single words. The visual arrangement of the typeface was paramount to it working, because if you think about it… you have nothing to work with apart from typography, no pictures, no gifs and certainly no videos.

No he is not wearing a head-band, he got shot in the temple when serving in the World War.

Guillaume Apollinaire was a poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist and art critic. This guy is amazing, he is considered one of the most prominent poets of the early 20th century. Better still, upon further research I realise he was the one who actually coined the names of the two movements ‘cubism’ & ‘surrealism’ in 1911 & 1917 respectively. I wouldn’t be surprise if the term ‘calligrams’ was also coined by him.

Apollinaire is a renown calligram writer and also the author of a book of poems called Calligrammes, subtitled Poems of Peace & War. I found a link by the ‘Public Domain Reviews’ that allows you to view the whole book in its entirety, HOHOHO (The Link)

In his own words,
“The Calligrammes are an idealisation of free verse poetry and typographical precision in an era when typography is reaching a brilliant end to its career, at the dawn of the new means of reproduction that are the cinema and the phonograph.”

Many of the poems deal with Apollinaire’s wartime experience, and through his calligrams, exude a sense of longing and desire for liberty and peace. Here are some examples that caught my attention.Calligrams value added to the poetry Apollinaire wrote, the ingenious arrangement of typefaces intensified each composition and perhaps, even allowed the reader to get a glimpse and relate closer to the artist’s intentions.

Here are some examples of modern day calligrams that are really fun to look at.

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