Graphic Novel Review: Poems To See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters

Poems To See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters. Plough Publishing House, 2020. 9780874863185. 168pp. (24 poems)

I was an English major. I slogged through most of the poetry I had to read, and it’s always hard to find poems that I love (though I do love a few). I recognized most of the poets in Peters’ book, and even a few of the individual poems (though I hadn’t read most of them). An image of the table of contents is included with the review if you want to see what’s in the book.

I tell you all of that because I wasn’t super excited about this book before reading it, but it absolutely wowed me. The images Peters uses vary from abstract and colorful to realistic and black and white. One poem is drawn in manga style, while others looks like they belong in an American newspaper or the best of indie graphic novels that have come out in the past decades. There seem to be a variety of media used as well, and all of the illustrations are amazing. But at the core of what makes the book work is the way Peters uses panels, images, and text placement to create a rhythm. These poetry comics are works of art themselves, and I’ve never read anything quite like them. (Each poem is also present, as text, after the poetry comic of the poem.)

This book will find a home in any high school library and, I’m sure, in some college courses. I wish a professor had assigned it when I was in school, which is something I’ve never said about a poetry anthology before.


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