“Visual Sonnet #1” by Braxton Soderman

Screen capture from "Visual Sonnet #1" by Braxton Soderman. Images are stacking on top of other images. Some have text written on them while others have eyes  of people on them. Text: "Creative Bookbinding" "m n o or r" "Le Hasard" The rest of the text is too small to read.
Open “Visual Sonnet #1” by Braxton Soderman

This generative sonnet is inspired by Raymond Queneau’s Cent Mille Milliards de Poèmes but takes a highly visual approach by using images of poets, book spines, and other images. The images are cropped into strips, much like the line-pages in Queneau’s book, an ideal proportion for book spines (see a similar treatment by Jody Zellen) and the photographed eyes of iconic poets. The lines respond to mouseovers, allowing you to change the work as needed.

The structure of the sonnet doesn’t feel highly engaged— it is difficult to tell whether this is an English or Italian sonnet (there’s no rhyme) or whether it has a volta— but that doesn’t mean this is a purely random piece. Careful attention to choices is evident when noticing that there is only one famous visage per line (I recognize William Carlos Williams in the 13th line, visible above, Guillaume Apollinaire in the 8th) and the book titles are related to visual poetry, new media writing theories, and OULIPO. Read the last three lines in the image above in which Williams— a poet renown for using space on the page to shape his verse— is placed between Figuring the Word andWhat is Architecture? as evidence of deliberate sequencing.

Take the time to look and read carefully this engaging visual sonnet.

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