Sensual Meanings of Poetic Text: Lithuanian Visual Poetry

Traditionally, poetry is considered to be the “art of words”. Traditional Greimasian semiotics has the tools to analyse poetic discourses in semantic terms, but they are not sufficient for other forms of poetic expression, such as visual poetry or slam poetry. Lithuanian visual poetry of the 20th and the 21st century has brought about new forms, in which the plane of expression dominates. It has not only expanded the field of Lithuanian poetry, but also requires a different semiotic approach.

The plane of expression is received by the senses and it has its own strategy of meaning production. Sensual features of the text are analyzed by plastic semiotics, which mostly focuses on visual texts such as pictures, photographs, advertisements, fashion, etc. In semiotic studies of poetry, the plane of expression is not evaded, but usually analysed on the basis of the connection between the content and expression of verbal discourse (for example, by looking for content-expression isomorphism). The case of visual poetry raises a question: what kind of signification is produced in poetry where verbal text is absent and which is is experienced solely through the senses as an immanent object? How are such texts or forms conveyed to the reader in terms of the understanding and definition of poetry?

The aim of this paper is to demonstrate strategies of meaning production employed in Lithuanian visual poetry. More specifically, the paper focuses on the description of the logic of perception in poetic texts by analysing how the senses and perception work in this kind of discourse.

Dr. Jurgita Katkuvienė

A. J. Greimas Centre for Semiotics and Literary Theory, Institute for Literary, Cultural and Translation Studies, Vilnius University

Assistant at Vilnius university and head of MA study program in Semiotics. Her research involves semiotics, structuralism, literary theory with a focus on corporeality in the generation of meaning, general theories of meaning, and problems in semantics. Recent publications: “The Plane of Corporeality in Greimas’s semiotics” (2018, Lithuanian), „Semiotics and Philosophy: The Ontological Approach in the Semiotics of Algirdas Julius Greimas“ (2018, English), „How a Lithuanian Transformed a Nazi into a Jew: The Forgotten Fantastic Satire by Ignas Šeinius“ (2018, English), “What does my body know about photography? (R. Barthes)” (2017, Lithuanian).

plastic semiotics
visual poetry