Title: The Sister Arts Since 1900: Poetry and the Visual Arts

deadline for submissions: 
March 15, 2019
full name / name of organization: 
contact email: 

A special issue of the online journal Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787)

Authoritative voices have defined poetry and visual art—the “sister arts”—in relation to each other in ways that have even elided their obvious differences. Ut pictura poesis, instructs Horace, for instance: as is painting, so is poetry, a phrase that has been scrutinized, tested, and reduced many times. “Painting,” says Leonardo da Vinci, notwithstanding his clear preference for the visual, “is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.” The relation of poetry and visual art to each other, to imitation, mimesis, and the “real,” to pleasure and analysis, to ethics, to the senses, to craft, prompted rich dialogue and debate through at least the eighteenth century but is oddly flagging in contemporary critical conversation, possibly replaced by or transformed into an emphasis on multimodal and multimedia writing.  This issue invites essays on poetry and the visual arts, broadly understood, since 1900. Poetry is commonly analyzed in terms of its relationship to sound (including in technologies of recording and, throughout time, as performance) and may explicitly engage musical form (lyric, ballad, chorus, fugue, hymn meter, jazz, blues, and more); what prompts or what is altered, illuminated, troubled by an alternate affiliation to the visual or tactile? (How) is a visual image distinct from the text on a page, especially when the text is consciously using space? What is gained, lost, transformed when shared discourses of art (image, collage, even triptych, frieze, fresco) are used for both media? Can the two forms ever be fully collaborative or hybrid, become something greater than the sum of their parts, or is one always secondary or dependent? Is the relationship of poetry and visual art primarily formal, or is it also political, ideological, transgressive, or, as Brian Glavey has suggested, queer?

In addition to essays addressing the questions above or similar lines of inquiry, possible topics include but are not limited to: ekphrastic poetry and its opposite, photos or art inspired by poems; illuminated text and the art of the book; illustrated poetry for adults (e.g., William Blake or Stevie Smith) and children; the work of artist-poets (e.g., Dante Gabriel Rossetti, John Ashbery, Derek Walcott, Sylvia Plath); collaborations between artists and writers (e.g., Frank O’Hara and Larry Rivers, David Guinn and Rita Dove, Robert Creeley’s collaborations, the poetry/art collaborative series by Saturnalia Books); shared theorization and practice of artistic form and purpose (e.g., Pablo Picasso and Gertrude Stein or Guillaume Apollinaire); installations, exhibits, and volumes that combine poetry and photography/visual art; broadsides; concrete and visual poetry; unique conceptions like the “plastic poetry” of Kansuke Yomomoto or Claudia Rankine’s multigenre and spatially conscious Citizen: An American Lyric.

We welcome essays from both critics and practitioners of the arts.


For full submission information: http://www.mdpi.com/journal/humanities/special_issues/poetry_visual_arts


Humanities is an international open-access journal that is published by MDPI and funded by the initiative Knowledge Unlatched (http://mdpi.com/journal/humanities/apc). Humanities is a member of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE), and, accordingly, submissions are peer reviewed rigorously to ensure that they conform to the highest standards in their field.