In the first thirty years of the XX century, an old literary visual tradition was reborn in a series of new striking visual texts better known as calligrams. They were produced by some avant-garde poets such as Vicente Huidobro, José Juan Tablada, Alberto Hidalgo and Carlos Oquendo de Amat in Latin America, and Juan Larrea, Guillermo de Torre, Francisco Vighi, Luis Mosquera, and others in Spain. However, with few exceptions, the interpretation of those written drawings has caught little attention from literary critics. This research, contrasted to that of Willard Bohn's, is a contribution to the deciphering of such literary art form, designated here as the figurative visual poem. It is a proposal for its visual reading which draws from the fact that this type of text is concretely a drawing formed by written verses. As such, it can be regarded as a plastic writing, combining pictorial and verbal signs in one perceptible configuration on the page. The result of this semiotic operation is a hybrid product in which the iconic forms become symbolic and vice versa. It is in fact, an art object which should be approached as a text that can be seen as well as read. The study leads to the conclusion that Willard Bohn misreads the order in which language and image are articulated in the visual poem identified with the second order semiological system proposed by Roland Barthes, placing preeminence on language over image. This results in reading the avant-garde visual figurative poem in an ekphrastic fashion. Consequently, the role of the image in the system is left in an ambiguous realm at the time of deciphering this hybrid text. Our contribution to re-conducting this undertaking has been equally drawn from a semiotic stance taken from Louis Hjemslev that balances language and image as correlates of a semiotic function. Due to the signaling nature of both, language and figure, a visual poem becomes an iconic metaphor as well as a metaphoric icon, and moreover a self-referential sign, thus justifying its status of an autonomous art.
- Hacia una lectura visual del poema visual figurativo en la vanguardia Hispanoamericana