National Poetry Month (my favorite time of year) couldn’t come fast enough during this pandemic. We could all use a quiet anchoring gift at this time and poetry is that gift.
Split Rock Books normally displays poetry by the local elementary school in their storefront the whole month of April, but because of the current climate, decided to do a virtual window display instead. I helped by drawing it–which was a fun thing to do and a way to “visit” the bookstore I haven’t seen in nearly 3 weeks and dearly miss! Go see the poetry, which they will be rotating every week. There are some absolute gems–do yourself a favor and click through to read them.
His shirt had seen better days.
This morning’s haiku comic.
As longtime readers know, I love National Poetry Month. I literally look forward to it every April–when I can use it as an excuse to read nothing but poetry. This month is no different–although I also want to spend it reading and listening to poets in interviews and essays and pondering poetry. I feel like poets and cartoonists have a lot in common. Poets and cartoonist both try to do a lot with very little. Both work in rhythm and timing. Financially both art forms are totally impractical when it comes to making a living and yet we devote ourselves totally to it. I learn so much about what to tell and how to tell it in comics from poetry.
Like every winter, my time is in short supply due to snow days and family needs. Today is no different thanks to a late snow storm. I have a big comic I am working on, but won’t get to it because I won’t have time. This is when poetry is especially helpful–I can steal away and sneak a poem or two as time as needed. Recently, browsing a used bookstore, I stumbled upon James Wright’s book of haiku and have been starting my days reading and writing haiku of my own. It fits easily into very brief periods of time. I always have plans to make my haiku into comics, but I didn’t until this morning. I managed to fit it in when my son was eating breakfast. Now he sits on the floor reading Tubby comics as I type this, behind him a large window of snow. Another day when I’ll have to be creative in order to make things work. Another perfect day for poetry.
“And since we are swinging on a rainbow/it would be good…to hold on.”
-from the poem”Swinging on a Rainbow” by Nikki Giovanni, from the book Quilting the Black-Eyed Pea
Happy National Poetry Month!
I’ve said this before, but poetry is probably the largest influence on my comics. What I feel and experience in reading my favorite poems is what I hope to express in comics. The poet Dorothea Grossman is up there for me in terms of guiding this idea. I so wish I had VOLUMES of her work instead of the slim selected poems that was published shortly after her death. The poem that I mention in the comic is called “I Allow Myself” and you can find it here along with many others and a couple of podcasts that feature her work. I also want to note that I misquoted her poem in the comic. It should read: ” I allow/ myself the luxury of breakfast/ (I am no nun, for Christ’s sake.)”
I am a proud subscriber of Poetry Magazine and still an avid listener of the podcasts. I *still* have a crush on Don Share and Christian Wiman (although Wiman has since moved on from the magazine and the podcast). How can you not have a crush on two men who make their job editing and writing poems seem fresh month after month? How can you not have a crush on someone who continues to labor with such love? I guess this is where poetry and comics meet so clearly–neither art form will most likely pay the bills, but they both go along way to keep on the lights.
Happy National Poetry Month!
This is hanging above my desk right now. Bukowski is one of my secret favorite poets. I’m not alone–you can see Tom Waits reading this poem here. Happy National Poetry Month–one of the greatest inventions in this country since the hour long lunch break.