Calligrammes: poèmes de la paix et de la guerre, Paris: 1918

Bound book
Graphic Arts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library
Guillaume Apollinaire was one of the most influential modernist poets of the twentieth century as well as a perceptive art critic. Published shortly after Apollinaire's death, Calligrammes: Poems of Peace and War is a seminal work in the development of visual poetry. Apollinaire arranged the text of his poems to form images, linking typography and layout with meaning. As in Stéphane Mallarmé's A Throw of the Dice, the page becomes a canvas for experimentation and for the possibility of multiple, non-linear readings. His poem "Lettre-Océan," part of which is on view here, celebrates the theme of worldwide communication. The phrase "Jeunes filles à Chapultepec (Young girls at Chapultepec)" evokes a caption on a postcard (perhaps from his brother Albert's 1913 trip to Mexico), while the spiral format suggests radio waves or the shape of a Gramophone record.

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