A History of Poetry Comics #14

Book review: “From the Shore” by Alex Moni-Sauri (Gasher Press, 2020)

Throughout From the Shore, Alex Moni-Sauri’s drawings perfectly complement her handwritten poems adding illumination, punctuation, and thoughtful pauses. Artfully and simply, the poet/artist uses line drawings and squiggles to explain and expand the meaning of her poems.

Her drawings – I should say, cartoons – wouldn’t be out of place in the New Yorker. Whole panels stand alone at times as a kind of coda to the proceeding poem. My favorite poems/panels in the collection are ones where the words and drawings are integrated. The street lamp accompanying “Late from Work” (see below). The horizon line with the sun barely rising/setting in “From the Shore.” The lines of poetry with no distinction from the lines of the sea in “Wet Morning.” The security camera aimed at the poem in “Scene at the Mall.” There are more.

Her poems in this collection are mostly set outside. There are beaches, shorelines, barren (i.e. treeless) landscapes, ocean (which appears to be engulfing the poem), sky, manicured lawns, strata, power lines, and birds, which appear throughout these poems. Even when showing an interior space, like a room, birds are present, as in “Vulcan City” where the poems goes: Crows pass by like arrows / between buildings / that were dropped from air. And there’s the bird on a string hanging from the top frame of the cartoon in “A Thank You to the Empty Land.”

Late from Work - Alex Moni-Sauri
“Late from Work” by Alex Moni-Sauri from “From the Shore” (Gasher Press, 2020)

In an interview with Gasher Press, Moni-Sauri shares her approach: “Making poems and making drawings are distinct processes for me, although they talk to each other a lot. Using the same medium (pen and paper) for both connects them in a basic way, and my writing and drawings always exist in the same sketchbooks no matter how much I try to designate separate spaces for them. But in the end it is much more curatorial, or like collage.”

Find more images of her work on her Instagram page.

Timeline: 2020

Warning: This incomplete history maps my journey as a poet learning about comics and doesn’t follow a strict chronological order.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s