A while back a commenter suggested that poetry was best presented by itself, without graphics.  But readers go both ways on this, myself included.  Sometimes the addition of a picture seems intrusive, distracting, or just plain annoying, while at others it may enhance. For instance, an example of the latter is a poem posted by Abbas in January: Pablo Neruda’s A Lemon. In this case the accompanying graphics are, in my view, joyful additions; and joyful attention to a simple lemon seems to be what the poet intended.

But taking the argument to another level there is this from the American Poetry Foundation’s website:

“…to help readers discover (or rediscover) our archive, has invited some of today’s most vital graphic novelists to interpret a poem of their choice from the more than 4,500 poems in our archive, reaching from Beowulf o the present.

Heightened language—one possible or partial definition of poetry—isn’t the first thing one associates with comics. Yet comic book artists take into account the way words appear on the page to a degree poets will find familiar. How many lines should accompany each image? How high should the dialogue balloon float? The ratio of printed words to blank space plays a role in whether a poem or strip succeeds.” 

Following is a poem by A.E.Stallings without graphic assistance.  And here it is decked out by graphic novelist R. Kikuo in comic book finery. 


Every night, we couldn’t sleep.
Our upstairs neighbors had to keep
Dropping something down the hall—
A barbell or a bowling ball,

And from the window by the bed,
Echoing inside my head,
Alley cats expended breath
In arias of love and death.

Dawn again, across the street,
Jackhammers began to beat
Like hangovers, and you would frown—
That well-built house, why tear it down?

Noon, the radiator grill
Groaned, gave off a lesser chill
So that we could take off our coats.
The pipes coughed to clear their throats.

Our nerves were frayed like ravelled sleeves,
We cherished each our minor griefs
To keep them warm until the night,
When it was time again to fight;

But we were young, did not need much
To make us laugh instead, and touch,
And could not hear ourselves above
The arias of death and love.