Poems to See by: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry

Julian Peters (Author)

Product Details

$24.00  $22.08
Plough Publishing House
Publish Date
March 31, 2020
7.5 X 9.6 X 0.7 inches | 1.4 pounds
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About the Author

Julian Peters is an illustrator and comic book artist living in Montreal, Canada, who focuses on adapting classical poems into graphic art. His work has been exhibited internationally and published in several poetry and graphic art collections. Peters holds a master's degree in Art History, and in 2015, served as "Cartoonist in Residence" at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand.


"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. After each graphic version, the poem appears in its original form, so the reader can also experience the poetry in words alone, and compare their own mental images and associations with Peters' choices. Peters 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." --Gareth Hinds, creator of critically-acclaimed graphic novels, The Iliad and The Odyssey

"Comic artist Peters adopts a distinct visual style for each poem in this English-language collection, then imagines a complex narrative to accompany it. For William Ernest Henley's "Invictus" ("I am the master of my fate: / I am the captain of my soul"), he creates a blocky, black-and-white sequence about a dramatic prison break. For Langston Hughes's "Juke Box Love Song" ("Dance with you till day--/Dance with you, my sweet brown Harlem girl"), tender watercolor portraits illuminate glowing city lights. Some of the black-and-white action of Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much With Us" unfolds on a smartphone screen, while Tess Gallagher's "Choices" evokes nature's green in scribbly landscapes." --Publishers Weekly

"Poetry and comics. It sounds like an uncomfortable union of arts, joining the spiritual desolation of T.S. Eliot or the restlessness of Arthur Rimbaud with the text balloons and exclamation points that have traditionally filled a newspaper's "fun pages." But the forms merge beautifully in the work of Julian Peters.... Peters's work is a great argument for the commonalities between poetry and comic books. The lines of poetry and his comic panels hang together with an unexpected ease, as if their forward rhythms are in synch. Both the words and the images unroll across the page, visually, with the panels sometimes matching the line breaks or stanza breaks. Poetry, unlike most prose, can involve leaps of thought from line to line, which jibes with the way comics leap from panel to panel." --Matthew Gilbert, Boston Globe

The selections . . . encompass a range of moods and media, from a twinkly black-and-white manga version of W.B. Yeats' "When You Are Old" to poignant watercolor scenes illustrating Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays." The text is easy to follow, even when incorporated into the art, and the poems are reprinted at the end of each piece. . . . Fresh angles aplenty for poetic encounters." --Kirkus Reviews

"Peters gives 24 classic poems the graphic novel treatment. Entries are grouped into six themes, and the artwork varies in technique and texture. While Peters adopts a manga style for William Butler Yeats's "When You Are Old," he uses charcoal for Emily Dickinson's Hope is the thing with feathers" and a crayon's waxy patchiness for Tess Gallagher's "Choices." Most of the others have a watercolor aesthetic. After presenting a comic interpretation of a poem, Peters lists the full text. Within the comics, words frequently exist in the margins of the panels, sitting just above the imagery. In places where the text exists within a panel, the words occasionally follow the form of the verse, never quite becoming a concrete poem yet still changing direction, as in Maya Angelou's "Caged Bird," which has a quilt-inspired look. Sometimes, but not always, the imagery provides context about the meaning of the verse, which those who struggle with poetry will appreciate. --School Library Journal

Poems to See By is a perfect fit not only for die-hard poetry fans and curious new readers--it's also a fantastic teaching tool that any educator trying to get their students excited by poetry should pick up for their classroom....[It]harnesses the power of lush visuals, timeless poetry, and the magical alchemy that arises when words and pictures come together to create a reading experience that's truly unique--one which might even change the way you see poetry for good. --Alex Yarde, The Good Men Project