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A dialogue of the verbal and the visual

An introduction to the interplay of lyric poetry and photography

Keywords: Estonian poetry, photography, lyricism, narrativity, deictics

 

The interplay of lyrical poetry and photography has not been discussed much in literary theory. The present study is of an introductory nature, analysing the central features arising from the interaction of two different ways of representation. Those features include changes in narrativity, in lyricism and in metaphoricity. The analysis is based on a book published in 1997, titled as Kaalud (The Scales), which contains 31 poems written by Hasso Krull and one folk song as inspired by 34 photo­graphs by Toomas Kalve. This is perhaps the best known example, in Estonian literature, of photographs and poems to them being physically juxtaposed.

The article demonstrates how the close dialogue of poems and photos serves to mutually strengthen the narrativity of two weakly narrative ways of representation. The photographs lend a deictic concreteness to the lyrical poems, while the poem extends the temporal-spatial dimension of the photographs. All this has a decreasing effect on the lyricism of the texts, enhancing at the same time the ambivalence of both the addressee and the poetic voice. Also, it brings about a rise in the lyricism of the essentially static photographs, as far as the photographic image has ceased to be a mere representation of an external moment, having extended its representational power to the general present as well as to the inner world of the lyric subject. However, despite the rise in the narrativity of both the ­photographs and the lyrical poems, their mutual relationship remains atemporal, lyrical, and low in narrativity.

 

Agnes Neier (b. 1986), MA, doctoral student, junior researcher, University of Tartu, Institute of Cultural Research (Ülikooli 16, 51014 Tartu), agnes.neier@gmail.com

Joosep Susi (b. 1989), MA, doctoral student, University of Tartu, Institute of ­Cultural Research (Ülikooli 16, 51014 Tartu), joosep.susi@gmail.com

 

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