Towards Comics Poetry – Lancaster Conference

Towards Comics Poetry was delivered at the Fractured Words/ Broken Images conference in Lancaster, June 2010.

The paper asked, what’s poetic about ‘biff’ and ‘pow’? How can comics and poetry collide and what are the possibilities of ‘comics poetry’? In what ways do comics utilise poetic segmentivity? How can segmentivity provide an alternative to narratological readings of comics?

In order to answer some of these questions, this paper employs Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ concept of segmentivity within a comparative analysis of comics panels, gutters, speech balloons, captions and poetic devices of line breaks, stanzas and countermeasure. What can and can’t be considered comics poetry or poetry comics is debated by creators and critics alike. This paper is less about disputing definitions than drawing attention to the works within this developing genre in order to amplify the potential application of poetic devices in comics practice and theory. As critic Scott McCloud tells us, ‘no types of subject matter, no styles of prose or poetry’ are ‘out of bounds’ in comics. The possibilities for comics, like poetry, are endless, so too are attempts to define them.

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