In The Eye of the Beholder – Attitudes towards Visual Poetry in Latvian Literature


  • Mārtiņš Laizāns Latvijas Universitāte



visual poetry, conceptualist poetry, avant-garde, multimedia art, digital art, Latvian literature


Visual poetry in Latvian literature is still an extraordinary phenomenon. In this case, by extraordinary is meant its scarce appearance among the corpus of Latvian literary texts – only very few examples of it exist in Latvian literature even in the 21st century, though it has gained a visible presence in other literatures of the world since at least the era of Modernist poetry, and experienced in most cases a turn of critical attitude towards it from disregard or denial to acceptance and consideration. At first evaluated only as a pastime on the margins of serious literature, since Apollinaire it has evolved into a serious genre of poetry and art of its own, and is no longer considered a childish game. Given this situation in contemporary criticism, it is quite a peculiar situation that Latvian literature and literary criticism still does not pay adequate attention to it, thus visual poetry has stayed an outsider genre up to this day.

In this paper a concise historical account of Latvian visual poetry will be given and some examples of visual poetry from various decades of Latvian literature will be given, as well as quotations from Latvian literary critics and scholars regarding visual poetry will be provided, in order to illustrate the overall situation in Latvian visual poetry and the possible reasons why it is still being mostly neglected and disregarded both by poets/artists and critics, though there seems to be slight indications of a visual turn.


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