Friday, August 9, 2013


Basically this is a big moment: our little late-night revolutionary group of Poetry Comic gurus has come together to do a roundtable discussion for The Rumpus about the ever-changing art form. Paul Tunis, Gary Sullivan, Alexander Rothman, and myself talk about our history with art and poetry, as well as our process in creating what we each call--in some way or another--POETRY COMICS. It's filled with pictures of other poetry comic artists, as well as our own work. It's perfect timing too because there's been a riveting discussion in the ether regarding poetic comics vs. poetry comics., via the Poetry Foundation's article by Hillary Chute "Secret Labor: Sketching the connection between poetry and comics" (see the comments section and then see this) I think what's important to remember is that there are two clear sides to this genre, and each side is protective of what they know. What matters is the discussion of the idea of poetry and comics having a fundamental relationship, and less about laying claim to the term "Poetry Comics." So please take a look at our article here, which really comes from four very different places and people who have the same love of poetry comics! Enjoy!

[ excerpts ]

BS: For me, what’s so exciting about working on poetry comics is that it’s so unbridled. I’m such a serious poet—when I write a poem, it’s got to be perfect to be published and make a book. When I do a poetry comic, I feel so much more free to experiment and be messy and go all over the place, and I find it kind of liberating. It’s liberating especially in the structure. I found that poetry workshops can be so claustrophobic and uninspiring and not generative. And then something like taking a poem and putting it with your own images—it’s totally a relief and full of excitement.
Bianca Stone

PT: That was my experience too, that I was sick in my MFA by the end—of being told that I needed to be something else. When I did poetry comics, I could just make the thing that I felt moved to make, and it wasn’t going to be compared to anything else. Because nobody in my MFA program was doing anything like that. I could own it, and the terms with which I approached it were my own, and I didn’t have to meet some precedent or ideal that had already been established, and that was such a beautiful thing. Exactly what I needed to have when I started making work without any kind of workshop structure.
Paul K. Tunis

Gary Sullivan 

AR: I haven’t had many people say something like that to me outright, but I feel like I get that attitude quite a bit, going to conventions and things. I recently met a comics historian and when I told him I mix the forms, he said, “Why do you do that?”

Alexander Rothman

AR: But isn’t that the story of the world, that we always hate or are most annoyed by things that remind us of ourselves?

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