Visual Poetry

Connie Ozan 02.25.13

As a vintage enthusiast, graphic designer and a lover of historic typography, I was completely drawn to the beauty of this compelling poster designed by Jessica Helfand of Winterhouse for National Poetry Month 2013.

Each April, the Academy of American Poets creates and distributes – for free – almost 200,000 copies of the current National Poetry Month posters to U.S. schools, libraries, bookstores and community centers to help promote the month-long celebration and to increase poetry awareness.

The design of the poster is inspired and prompted by a volume of poetry written by Rainer Maria Rilkes entitled Letters to a Young Poet. The letters resulted in a five-year correspondence between a young man (Franz Kappus) about to enter the German military in 1902 and Rilkes. The young man was looking for guidance on how to be an artist and a person during a time when the world was going through a dramatic change.

To me, the poster is aesthetically beautiful. It strikes a perfect balance of color placement (monochromatic creams, krafts, blues and a pop of red within the type) and the delicate styling and layering of vintage hotel stationery combined with minimal typography (Mrs. Eaves, which is one of my favorites). Again, this is a lovely example of classic, refined and timeless design.

Over and above the design, it’s refreshing to see more than 150,000 copies of this well-designed poster going into classrooms this spring. I hope the message encourages and inspires children to read, imagine, travel, and even write a letter by hand, instead of with a keyboard.

Personally, the design and message inspired me so much that I requested a copy for my 10-year-old daughter, who is a budding young poet, writer and artist herself.

If you’d like to do the same, here’s the link to get your own poster.

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