Poems to See by: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters

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A fresh twist on 24 classic poems, these visual interpretations by comic artist Julian Peters will change the way you see the world.


This stunning anthology of favorite poems visually interpreted by comic artist Julian Peters breathes new life into some of the greatest English-language poets of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


These are poems that can change the way we see the world, and encountering them in graphic form promises to change the way we read the poems. In an age of increasingly visual communication, this format helps unlock the world of poetry and literature for a new generation of reluctant readers and visual learners.


Grouping unexpected pairings of poems around themes such as family, identity, creativity, time, mortality, and nature, Poems to See By will also help young readers see themselves differently. A valuable teaching aid appropriate for middle school, high school, and college use, the collection includes favorites from the Western canon already taught in countless English classes.


Includes poems by Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, Carl Sandburg, Maya Angelou, Seamus Heaney, e. e. cummings, Robert Frost, Dylan Thomas, Christina Rossetti, William Wordsworth, William Ernest Henley, Robert Hayden, Edgar Allan Poe, W. H. Auden, Thomas Hardy, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Philip Johnson, W. B. Yeats, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Tess Gallagher, Ezra Pound, and Siegfried Sassoon.

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.

Table of Contents:
"Hope" Is the Thing with Feathers, by Emily Dickinson
Invictus, by William Ernest Henley
Caged Bird, by Maya Angelou
may my heart always be open, by e. e. cummings
Somewhere or Other, by Christina Rossetti
Those Winter Sundays, by Robert Hayden
In a Station of the Metro, by Ezra Pound
When You Are Old, by W. B. Yeats
Juke Box Love Song, by Langston Hughes
Musée des Beaux Arts, by W. H. Auden
The Given Note, by Seamus Heaney
The Darkling Thrush, by Thomas Hardy
Choices, by Tess Gallagher.
The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower, by Dylan Thomas
Buffalo Dusk, by Carl Sandburg
The World Is Too Much with Us, by William Wordsworth
Ozymandias, by Percy Bysshe Shelley
There Have Come Soft Rains, by John Philip Johnson
Birches, by Robert Frost
Spring and Fall, by Gerard Manley Hopkins
Before the Battle, by Siegfried Sassoon
Annabel Lee, by Edgar Allan Poe
Because I Could Not Stop for Death, by Emily Dickinson
Conscientious Objector, by Edna St. Vincent Millay

"Comics artist Julian Peters performs a sleight-of-paintbrush, as it were, with an array of powerful verses in Poems to See By, a collection for readers ages 10 to adult. It is a wide and varied collection, both in visuals and text. Here are pieces by Carl Sandburg, Edna St. Vincent Millay and William Ernest Henley. Mr. Peters sets the aching lines of Robert Hayden's 1962 poem "Those Winter Sundays" as if in the illustrated panels of a graphic novel....Other poems are illustrated with delicate watercolor panels or cartoon drawings in the style of Japanese manga....In a preface, Mr. Peters writes that his motivation for translating great poetry into the visual language of comics was "for love of beauty." In this he has undoubtedly succeeded; reading Poems to See By is a stirring experience. --The Wall Street Journal

"By creating interesting juxtapositions of text, imagery, and illustration style, cartoonist Peters elevates each of the 24 visualizations of classic poems here into something much more interesting than mere translation. He highlights the timelessness of regretful longing by rendering William Butler Yeats's "When You Are Old" as a manga about an elderly woman reflecting on her youth. In "Hope is the thing with feathers," he depicts a vibrantly colored bird watching over black-and-white depictions of a soldier huddled in a foxhole, an impoverished child in China, and an immigrant family entering a new land, lending a sense of universality to Emily Dickinson's text. At the beginning of Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays," dark watercolors evoke a dreary cold morning, as the speaker comes to recognizes his father's habit of waking early to stoke the furnace as an act of love, the palette warms considerably, provoking a visceral flair of emotion. Peters's virtuosity as an illustrator and keen understanding of the texts included here results in a beautiful, memorable volume. --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." --The Good Men Project

"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

Plough Publishing House

Pub Date:  March 31, 2020

0.7" H x 9.6" L x 7.5" W

160 pages