With the surge in popularity of writer Rupi Kaur, poetry is definitely having a moment again, providing readers who might otherwise be turned off by their memories of high school english class and rhyme schemes to memorize a chance to remember just how beautiful, playful, and deeply human poetry can really be. Thankfully, and perfectly timed to the upcoming National Poetry Month, Plough Publishing Press will be releasing Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry, an all new anthology by cartoonist Julian Peters on March 31st.
Over the course of 24 classic poems, the Montreal-based artist has created stunning visual interpretations of some of the world’s most beloved poems. Each poem is interpreted for the page using a different and compelling visual style, showcasing both the diversity of the source material and the storytelling possibilities of the comics art form.
Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry features poems by Maya Angelou, e. e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, Tess Gallagher, Langston Hughes, John Philip Johnson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edgar Allen Poe, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Stevie Smith, William Wordsworth, W. B. Yeats, and many more; proving the perfect fit not only for die-hard poetry fans and curious new readers.
The collection has already been hailed by prolific writer and New York Times Bestselling cartoonist Gareth Hinds. “By turns whimsical, chilling, and profound, Peters has created a wonderful anthology of classic poems new and old, as well as an inspiring exploration of the wide range of visual possibilities available when bringing poetry into the comics medium,” Hinds said in a statement, adding that he “particularly excels at adapting weighty subjects, using his art to allude to historical events and styles, such as African textiles and folk art in ‘Caged Bird,’ or propaganda films, posters, and black & white photojournalism in ‘Conscientious Objector.’ But he also nods to classic American comic strips, film noir, manga, and more.”
“Poetry and comics may seem like an unlikely combination, but the two art forms actually share a number of common elements,” writes Peters in the book’s preface. “In setting out to turn beautiful poetry into comics, I wanted to pay tribute to the way these poems made me feel, to spend time with them, to pull them in as close to me as possible in the way that, as someone who draws comics, felt the most natural.”
If you need further enticing, below you can find an excerpt from the poem ‘Choices’ by Tess Gallagher!