cover image Embodied: An Intersectional Comics Poetry Anthology

Embodied: An Intersectional Comics Poetry Anthology

Edited by Wendy and Tyler Chin-Tanner. Wave Blue World, $16.99 trade paper (200p) ISBN 978-1-949518-13-9

This ambitious anthology of feminist comics poetry aims high, and soars in some selections. Each chapter opens with a short comic, which interprets a poem, which is replicated as original text following the comic. Every talent assembled, from the poets to the illustrators to the letterers, identifies as a woman or as nonbinary, and the ground they cover is vast, touching on the exhilaration of childbirth, the alienation of immigration, and the timelessness of great art. There are successes here: the “University Toxic” comic by Kaylee Rowena uses vibrant color to drive home the realities of workplace harassment as portrayed in Laura Hinton’s poem, while Y Sanders’s comic “Drown” packs eroticism into intricate inking that expresses a fulsome narrative arc with a mere handful of panels, representing the poem by Venus Thrash. But in other pairings, ironically more prosaic visual interpretations of a poem’s dominant images elide their textual complexity (Maggie Smith’s “Good Bones” is interpreted literally in the comic by Carola Borelli as a real estate transfer), while meter, text alignment, and deliberate use of letter case disappear when poems are adapted into comics panels. The artistic fusion, when it works, offers a theatricality akin to a slam poet playing on stage. These moments could serve to pique the interest of comics fans in poetry—or perhaps vice versa; it’s a curious experiment, in any case. (May)