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Comics and Poetry

Written by James Sturm
Every word in a poem counts. A word conjures an image, images juxtaposed to create something new or suggest something elusive. Comics, like poetry, are about simplifying and paring down. There is only so much space on a page and every mark must count. Visual concerns are crucial for both mediums. A cartoonist cascades panels across a page as a poet decides the placement of each line and letter.In the examples shown here students were asked to create a twelve panel grid and have text in each panel that alternatively begins “I used to believe/but now I know.”

This exercise is stolen from Keneth Koch’s classic book, Wishes, Lies, and Dreams, an account of a poet’s experience in the classroom. The book is full of great exercises, many which encourage the juxtaposition of language in odd and unexpected ways. This exercise, when done in comics, adds novel visual juxtapositions to the mix. In this class we also look at e.e. cummings and a few other poets who very deliberately give visual shape and form to their work.

Poetry 1

poetry 2