Review—′Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry′ by Julian Peters

Comic Books Entertainment Reviews

Just in time for National Poetry Month.

English is my second language; my mother tongue is Spanish. However, I remember the first time I heard a poem by Robert Frost: The road not taken, at the speech given in my graduation ceremony at Old Fort High School, the way it glittered in my mind, like recently fallen snow.

Poetry is a powerful tool, it conjures up memories you didn′t know you had. Of course, as Peters will tell you, it can also call forth images, different scenes and backgrounds; and that is where he intervenes, by picturing famous poems in a way that may prove useful or new to the beholder.

The book reminded me the works of the great Gavin Aung Than of Zen Pencils fame, an artist who decided to take inspiration in the words of others, giving them form in the shape of a comic.

Here, the length varies but the idea behind is the same: Peters illustrates 24 of the most famous poems written in the English language, giving them a new shape.

Poetry and comics may seem like an unlikely combination, but the two art forms actually share a number of common elements,

he says in his introduction:

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.

As a teaching tool, this book will work very well. I feel they can work as an inspirational sheet for those who will want to illustrate their understanding of a poem, and since each poem is drawn in a different style, it will work as a helpful set of examples.

The ones that worked better for me included representation: different races and genders. The ones that fell a bit flat had that discording note of being, perhaps, a tad traditional in their portraiture. But, as he says:

As much as it′s true that a picture is worth a thousand words, it′s also the case that a single word can conjure up as many pictures as there are people who read it.

So perhaps my head cannon is different from his, as it should be, because poems are there to show us a way to see the world, and not one person observes it with the same set of eyes.

The illustrated poems include works by Maya Angelou, W. H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, e. e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, Tess Gallagher, Thomas Hardy, Robert Hayden, Seamus Heaney, William Ernest Henley, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Langston Hughes, John Philip Johnson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edgar Allen Poe, Christina Rossetti, Carl Sandburg, Siegfried Sassoon, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Stevie Smith, Dylan Thomas, William Wordsworth, and W. B. Yeats.

′Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry′ is on sale since March 31, 2020.

Genre: Graphic Literature, Poetry

Featured image by Julian Peters, all images belong to Plough Publishing Press

Liked it? Take a second to support GeekDad and GeekMom on Patreon!