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Anders Nilsen, Poetry Is Useless

I’ve been following Nilsen’s work for years. Big influence on me when I was starting out. This is a collection of his sketchbook pages, many of which he’s posted over at The Monologuist. Like almost all Drawn & Quarterly releases, it’s beautifully produced in hardcover:

There isn’t really a unifying narrative to be devoured at once — this is more of an art book that you should dip into at different times. My favorite pages are his line drawings and portraits (many drawn from behind on airplanes, etc.), which are wonderful:

There are also his “talking head” comics:

Which are sort of a simplified riff off of R. Crumb’s great illustrations of Harvey Pekar’s talking head comics:

I’m fascinated by this format because it doesn’t seem like it should work, but it does — the panels and the balloons chunk things up so there’s music and pauses and a flow to the monologue — you could actually draw a whole standup routine this way and still get some of the beats.

Because I was initially drawn to Anders work because of the more weird, formally inventive and schematic type comics he does, it’s surprising to me that some of my favorite comics in the book are the more straightforward memoir-ish ones. (Don’t know if I’m getting old or what!)

I also like these collage comics:

It’s a cool book, and a great overview of his different ways of drawing comics, but if you’re new to his work, I might start with Dogs and Water, The End, or my favorite book of his, the heartbreaking Don’t Go Where I Can’t Follow.

Filed under: Anders Nilsen, comics, sketchbooks

Nothing was wrong with Cummings—or Duchamp or Stravinsky or Joyce, for that matter. All were trying to slow down the seemingly inexorable rush of the world, to force people to notice their own lives. In the 21st century, that rush has now reached Force Five; we are all inundated with information and given no time to wonder what it means or where it came from. Access without understanding and facts without context have become our daily diet.
—  Whether you admire the work of e.e. cummings or think of him mainly as the inspiration for your high school’s worst poet, you’ll enjoy this excerpt of Susan Cheever’s new biography, which touches on the poet’s later years and his relationship with Cheever’s father. The two (contrasting) money quotes here are Malcolm Cowley’s claim that cummings was “the most brilliant monologuist I have known” and this exasperated question posed by Helen Vendler: “What is wrong with a man who writes this?