Seeing Poetry: Poetry in Words and Comics
Seeing Poetry is a collaboration between acclaimed poet Clare Shaw (Bloodaxe 2006, 2012) and illustrator Louise Crosby.
Louise illustrates poetry by Clare Shaw in comics form. Her illustrations were first designed as single spreads to be shown in exhibitions; these are now being reworked to book format.
In Spring 2014 they were awarded a grant from Arts Council England. This has enabled them to develop the comics, produce mini books, plan workshops and develop this website which includes a webcomic.
Poem from a Bus Shelter was our first mini book which was launched in July 2014. She waited half her life to write this followed in Nov 2014. They are presently seeking a publisher for a full-length poetry comics book.
Louise and Clare have appeared together as “Seeing Poetry” at Arts and Literature festivals and other forums. “Seeing Poetry” events feature a poetry reading, with an illustrated talk about the project and an accompanying exhibition. They are also able to deliver writing and illustration workshops together as “Seeing Poetry” or individually in their own disciplines.
Clare and Louise live near each other in West Yorkshire; this and a great friendship help the collaboration greatly. They often meet both formally and informally to discuss the work. The work has also developed by accepting other commisions. They are presently documenting the Mechanics at Home art project in Burnley with poetry and comics.
All poetry is the art of seeing. Clare’s poetry is at once deeply personal and passionately political; and her new works are overtly located in a poetic tradition of bearing witness to that which goes unsaid. Clare deploys acute observation to ground her poetry in physical landscapes … social, personal and geographical. In Clare’s hands, language is concrete; textured and tangible; each poem is a landscape in its own right.
Louise’s visual interpretations of Clare’s poetry offer not just another way of reading these poems, but a whole new landscape in themselves, with new dimensions of meaning and texture. Just as the poet works with space, geometry, breath, and beat to sculpt the entity of the poem, so Louise uses ‘comic’ forms to parallel the poetic structure through the use of choice of image, framing, layout and flow.
The output of this lively collaboration will not just speak to your eyes, but to all of your senses; not just to your head, but your heart.
‘Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England’, www.artscouncil.org.uk
Clare Shaw is “one of Britain’s most dynamic and powerful young poets” (Arvon Foundation). Her first poetry collection, Straight Ahead – published by Bloodaxe in 2006 – was described by Jackie Kay as “an emotional blast of a book”; her second collection Head On (2012) is, according to the Times Literary Supplement, “fierce … memorable and visceral”. A popular and powerful performer, Clare is available for readings and creative writing workshops.
Clare is also a freelance mental health trainer who develops and delivers workshops on issues including self-injury and suicide. Her work is grounded not only in academic and professional knowledge, but also in her own experiences. This combination of personal and academic expertise, along with a deep passion for the issues she addresses, means that her work has gained a national audience, and influenced practice across the UK and beyond.
Clare also has her own website which features several of her poems and news of poetry readings. www.clareshaw.co.uk
Louise is an illustrator and part-time teacher. As a printmaker, she first collaborated with Clare by using single lines from Clare’s poetry as the inspiration for etchings. After completing an MA in Digital Image and Media at Bolton University in 2008, she began to use Adobe Illustrator. This digital technique made it easier to illustrate the whole poem as a series of pictures with text – an accidental start to drawing comics. Since then Louise has found it fascinating to explore the comics art form in more detail – especially its use to illustrate poetry.
Louise delivers a variety of workshops for both children and adults. Her workshops specialise in illustrating literature, especially poems. This includes large scale comics for wall display. She also delivers workshops on graphic memoir and issue-based comics.
Louise runs the Leeds branch of Laydeez do Comics, a graphic novel forum with a focus on comic works based on life narrative, the drama of the domestic and the everyday. She chaired the Diversity in Comics panel at Thought Bubble 2013 & 2014.
She has started to illustrate her own writing and produced some mini riso poetry books. She has designed a range of comic sketch books which she sells at comics events.
In 2013 she worked in collaboration with a scientist to produce ‘Squashed Tomatoes’ for ‘Asteroid Belter’ a Newcastle Science Comic for 8-13yr olds for the British Science Festival 2013.
Louise is still a practising printmaker most recently using photopolymer techniques to explore found patterns and objects. Three of these were included in the Print Council’s 8th International Miniprint Exhibition. She was Gallery Manager at West Yorkshire Print Workshop from Nov 2009 – Nov 2011. She also completes occasional graphic design work.
Louise has a studio in Hebden Bridge and takes part in Hebden Bridge Open Studios annual event.