Illustrating Poetry [DRAFT]
Theorists have long worried about the comparative strengths of Painting and Poetry. Rather less attention
has been paid to combining the 2 modes.
There are various ways that images have been used with poems
At the time of the Surrealists I think several poets mixed Words
See "The Dialogue Between Painting and Poetry", edited by Jean Khalfa.
- Cover art and author photographs - e.g. Tim Love
- Accompanying illustration - Around the period of the Georgians, it was
quite customary to produce volumes of illustrated verse. The practise lost
credibility with the onset of Modernism. Ted Hughes ("River") and Stevie Smith
(who saw her line drawings as integral parts of the poems) have used illustration. Beckett's Fizzles (1976) was a collaboration with Jasper Johns.
Magazines like Rialto used to have illustrations too. Nowadays illustrated
serious poems are likely to be
- Poems inspired by paintings
- In online magazines
- Bordering imagery (William Blake - though his images encroach upon
the text sometimes; illuminated manuscripts)
- Using the letters/words as images (Lewis Carroll)
- Integrated word/image - more the province of artists nowadays?
- Computer animation - Peter Howard
or Jennifer Ley
- Videos (Tony Harrison's V etc). On Mediolanum (an Italian TV channel) there's a 30-minute poetry program which mixes
reading with pop-videos and poetry-videos. MTV's Unplugged and in particular the "United Stated of Poetry" venture (Walcott, Cohen, Rita Dove, etc) were important too. Some shorts are based on poems (e.g. Paul Bush's "The Albatros").
- Books for children - see for example the lavishly illustrated
Poetry for Young People: William Carlos Williams
by Christopher MacGowan (Editor), Robert Crockett (Illustrator).
Updated April 2004 with help from HN
Back to list of articles