Both poetry and comics make fascinating and bold uses of structure, pace, and language. What would happen if you brought the two together? That’s the premise of Poems to See By: A Comic Artist Interprets Great Poetry by Julian Peters. Peters’s book offers interpretations of works by the likes of Seamus Heaney, Maya Angelou, and Tess Gallagher. In this excerpt, Peters offers a distinctive take on Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Conscientious Objector.”
Say you’re a fiction writer and you’d like to allude to the communications technologies of the present moment. There are plenty of ways you can do this, from coming up with your own lightly-altered versions of real-world services to embracing an accurate picture of your smartphone’s suite of apps circa the moment you’re putting words on paper. The difficulty with the latter, though, is that the ups and downs of the tech world don’t always match up with the time it takes to get a book published; the way that Vine went from buzzed-about to deprecated in a relatively short period of time illustrates just how difficult of a juggling act this can be.
In my early twenties, I ached to be a writer, but the stories I wrote were never as good as I wanted them to be. Even worse, sometimes a story idea that had initially seemed promising would fizzle out midway through. I thought that surely this didn’t happen to “real” writers, who, in the grip of the Muse, produced fully-realized stories from the get-go. And then I read Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, in which she insists that nearly all good writing starts with a “shitty first draft,” that writing is an inherently messy process, that the bulk of it is, in fact, re-writing.
So. No witty introduction this time, as that seems a little tone-deaf right now. We will be very honest here: we’ve gotten a lot of news of book release dates being rearranged as of late, for understandable reasons. These are, to the best of our knowledge, all books due out this month that we’re excited to read. It’s possible that some of these will be out at a later date instead. Our recommendation still holds, regardless of the month. Support your local bookstores now; support your local bookstores later.
I’d thought I was done. It had taken me five years to write my first book, a densely researched work of immersion and memoir set in the context of yoga in the 19th and 20th centuries. I’d conducted dozens of hours of interviews and cited over a hundred texts and unpublished letters. It sold as a completed manuscript and took another year to get through edits, production, and blurbs. Who knew there was still more to overcome. And who knew that what I learned from the experience would, many years later, help me confront a traumatic and unspoken fact from my family’s past.
The guiding principle of Six Ridiculous Questions is that life is filled with ridiculousness. And questions. That only by giving in to these truths may we hope to slip the surly bonds of reality and attain the higher consciousness we all crave. (Eh, not really, but it sounded good there for a minute.) It’s just. Who knows? The ridiculousness and question bits, I guess. Why six? Assonance, baby, assonance.
On January 26th, Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell stole the stage at the Grammy awards collecting a total of 5 Grammys, including the most prestigious award of ‘Album of the Year’ for their 2019 album When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go? Billie and Finneas entirely produced and wrote the album (with mixing and mastering by Rob Kinelski and John Greenham). Apart from all of the wonderful accolades, awards, and personal stories behind this masterful album, there’s something completely missing from mainstream praise and reviews of this record: its dense narrative and compelling themes.
A caveat: Foreign Bodies is Kimiko Hahn’s tenth collection of poetry, but it’s the first and only one that I’ve read. By my own standards as a critic, this lack of familiarity with a writer’s work usually disqualifies me as a reviewer of one of their books. The only exception I make for this is when I read a book that is so fantastic and exhilarating and rich that I’m compelled to write less of a review and more of a celebration, a fan’s note, a paean to a particular book’s achievements. This is one of those cases.