Timed to National Poetry Month in April, Plough Publishing Press will release Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry, an all-new anthology by cartoonist Julian Peters. Over the course of 24 classic poems — from Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird” to W. B. Yeats’ “When You Are Old” — the Montreal-based artist has created stunning visual interpretations of some of the world’s most beloved poems. Each iconic 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.
“Poetry and comics may seem like an unlikely combination, but the two art forms actually share a number of common elements,” writes Julian 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.”
Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry features poems 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 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. “In the years since I began creating such works, I have often been contacted by teachers who tell me they are using them in their poetry classes,” says Peters. “I’m delighted to think that one of my comics may have helped students to better understand a poem, or perhaps clarify their own interpretation of a poem, even if it differs significantly from my own, which is obviously only one of the thousands.”
With the surge in popularity of writer Rupi Kaur, poetry is having something of a moment, providing an opening for readers who might otherwise be turned off by their memories of rote scansion and rhyme schemes to discover (and rediscover) just how beautiful, playful, and deeply human poetry can really be. Poems to See By 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.
Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry will be in bookstores on March 31, 2020. It’s a perfect book for poetry lovers, reluctant readers, and everyone in between.