Daily Archives: January 6, 2009

poems + comics = pomics

It’s my turn to post again, so odds are that today’s Eleventh Stack spotlight will shine on either poetry or graphic novels, right?  Double right!   Today’s post is about both poems and comics, and the weird hybrid animal that spawns from their combination: “pomics.”

We’ve got evidence proving that poets were hip to the comics scene as early as 1946, when E. E. Cummings wrote the introduction to a collection of George Herriman’s Krazy Kat comics.  In fact, he portrays the strip as an analogy for the dynamics of love and wisdom, democracy and individualism.

Matthea Harvey is a contemporary poet who has professed her love for comics, especially in this interview with Poetry Foundation, in which she and Jeannine Hall Gailey discuss the inspirational themes of dozens of graphic novels, manga and anime titles and authors, including Paul Hornschemeier‘s Three Paradoxes,  Osamu Tezuka‘s Astro Boy and several of Hayayo Miyazaki‘s works.

Not only is Jeannine Hall Gailey another comics fan, she’s also a pomics creator.  Her book, Becoming The Villainess, includes the poem “Wonder Woman Dreams of the Amazon” and several poems from her chapbook, Female Comic Book Superheroes, which you can listen to her read here.

Poetry Foundation.org has taken a clear stance on the side of pomics by initiating their creation in its feature, “The Poem as Comic Strip.”  So far, the series has included collaborations between Ron Regé, Jr. and Kenneth Patchen, David Heatley and Diane Wakoski, Gabrielle Bell and Emily Dickinson, and Jeffrey Brown and Russell Edson.

The 1960’s must certainly have produced some impressive cross-genre overlap with its combination of psychedelic poetry readings and mind-warping underground comics, both exploding in San Francisco.  One example is Ginsberg’s Illuminated Poems, which graphic novelist Eric Drooker illustrated.  According to Graphic Witness: Four Wordless Graphic Novels, Ginsberg credits Lynd Ward’s silent graphic novels as the inspiration for his famous poem “Howl.” 

The symbiotic relationship between poetry and comics is so far-reaching that I’m sure I’ve left out some approaches–but if you know of any more examples, I’d love to read them.



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