~ Bianca Stone ~

Poetry comics: cousin to videopoetry?

In the same way that people often express astonishment that they’d never heard of videopoetry or filmpoetry before, considering how much great work is out there, I’m feeling simultaneously abashed and grateful to discover that there is such a thing as poetry comics, and that it appears to be flourishing. A friend on Facebook, the poet and publisher Kathleen Rooney, just linked to an anthology with eight contributors published last year by New Modern Press called Comics as Poetry:

A handful of artists have wandered away from mainstream comics only to find themselves at the periphery of poetry. Here, they bend and shove the vocabulary of comics to make the medium yield new effects. The results are original and surprising, and invite the reader to participate in experiments performed upon narrative, art, and language.

Check the press page for examples of their art.

Googling quickly turned up a blog called Poetry Comics by artist-poet Bianca Stone, who in a recent post links to a roundtable discussion at The Rumpus between her and three other artists, from the New York Comics Symnposium.

Comics and poetry may not often be mentioned in the same breath, but the two actually have a long history together. That history dates back at least to the mid 1960s, when the New York School experimented with combining the forms. (Much earlier than that, e. e. cummings recognized a kindred spirit in George Herriman.) Today, a small-but-growing group of creators work primarily in a hybrid of comics and poetry. Among these are Paul Tunis (PT), Bianca Stone (BS), Gary Sullivan (GS), and Alexander Rothman (AR). The four NYC-based artists sat down to discuss poetry comics in August 2013.

The strongest video parallel would be animated poetry, I suppose, but based on the samples I’ve seen, some seem equally close to haiga. Bianca Stone says in the roundtable:

I think what’s exciting is that we kind of don’t know what “poetry comics” means, and it’s just kind of this words-and-image exploration. But it’s not really fixed in either world.

I do love hybrid genres, and am always impressed by poets who turn out also to be gifted artists, or vice versa — as with author-made videopoems. When done right, art-poetry combinations can bring across to the reader/viewer something of that gestalt which I think lies at the heart of authentic perception.