The Poetry Society: Over The Line Exhibition

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Last night I attended the Over The Line exhibition at the Poetry Cafe in Holborn, and I can’t recommend checking out this exhibition enough. I was completely blown away by the amazing work and talent.

Exhibited is a selection of poetry comics, which are also available to buy as a book published by Sidekick Books. It was wonderful to see the work in book form, as well as displayed because you can really get a different perspective from each. The unbind pages of the book are hung on string with little pegs, and you get to view each piece as one, whereas in the book you get the physical pages to flick through with all the work together. The work is quite small, so viewing it actually felt quite personal because you have to stand close to it and really absorb the words and images. Having these two mediums combined is so interesting, and I especially appreciated the collaboration after having written about my poet dreams on the same day!

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I have a love for both poetry and comics, so joining the two together was my little creative brains dream. Usually comics will have a flowing narrative that goes along with the images, however, poetry is a completely different form of writing to scripts, so seeing how that translated onto the page was so fascinating.  You don’t just straight off read the poem, you kind of slow down your pace and take in the images and the words, which means you get so much more out of it. Comics and poetry can stand alone, but bringing them together creates a dynamic relationship where the visuals and sounds join to create a far more imaginative, and thought provoking experience.

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It was great to see some of the people who actually worked on this project, and hear them talk about their experiences as well as read some of the work.  Sophie Herxheimer and Chris McCabe discussed their collaboration and I really enjoyed seeing how these two creative individuals brought their skills and interests together, and through that they produced some great collaborative work.

John Aggs spoke about his experiences as an artist, and how different it is creating a comic strip for poetry since the language isn’t as explicit as ‘two people are in panel one’, etc. He talked about how the artwork for the poem was his own interpretation of the words, and he created a post apocalyptic world through that, which may not be anything to do with the poem at all. He discussed the ease of working with writers, and how he would generally create the artwork and they would like it, and that would be it. It was great to hear his perspective as an artist, and it just emphasised even more how engaging it is to bring these two creative expressions together as one.

Amy Key read from her poetry comic, and discussed how as a child she was always one of those kids who were told that they couldn’t draw. Through doing this project she joked about how she had dealt with this childhood trauma. It was entertaining to hear her talk about her experiences of this project, and great to hear her read from the work as well. What I found fascinating was that her experiences of working with Rob VonRamm, were entirely different to that of John Aggs and his collaboration with W. N. Herbert. VonRamm asked Key to explain the poem, to make it more of a story, so he could make the appropriate art work. Correspondingly Aggs was allowed to interpret it in whatever way he saw fit. Recognising the differences in how people work was so compelling.

Some of the poetry comics created were made independently so it wasn’t all collaboration, and having this mix makes the work all that more intriguing. Editors Chrissy Williams and Tom Humberstone have done an excellent job in bringing this project together, and it was such a great success. For me having comics, poetry, free wine, and a bunch of creatives in the one place made for such a delightful evening, and being able to take home the book was just a bonus. Everyone should definitely buy this book, some of my favourite pieces were Nightbus by Tim Bird, Cathedral by Joseph Turrent, Haunted by Amy Key and Rob VonRamm, Sea of Faces by Anna Saunders, and I’m about to list every single comic poem because they are amazing, so seriously just buy the book.

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The exhibition runs until the 31st October, so you should definitely check it out if you didn’t make it to the exhibition launch, and I believe there is another launch at Gosh Comics as well. Additionally Chrissy Williams is holding a comic poetry workshop if anyone wants to try their hand at creating their own work.

This creative work is so inspiring, and I can’t wait to see and create more of it! I NEED TO GET INVOLVED.


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