- Posted by Johanna on October 3, 2010 at 9:19 am
- Category: Books and Prose
In the latest sign of just how widespread awareness of the superhero genre and its tropes has become… Coming out later this month is Missing You, Metropolis, a poetry collection by Gary Jackson.
The book won the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, “an annual first-book award dedicated to the discovery of exceptional manuscripts by African American poets.” The 80-page paperback is described as follows:
Jackson’s collection imagines the comic book worlds of Superman, Batman, and the X-Men, alongside the veritable worlds of Kansas, racial isolation, and the gravesides of a sister and friend. It includes poems titled, “The Secret Art of Reading a Comic”, “The Dilemma of Lois Lane”, and “Upon Seeing Spider-Man On My Way to Work.”
The publicity department provided this quote from the author:
I have loved comic books all my life. From this love I’ve come to understand that comics are more sophisticated than most people give them credit for. And I’ve always wanted to raise an awareness of how comics, when at their best, are not only useful tools for entertainment and escapism (which is something that I’ve always argued is respectable in its own right), but also immensely interesting in how they require the reader to participate in constructing the narrative with the author. One goal was to create poems that explore and raise an awareness of how comics are capable of dealing with current significant and social issues.
So if you’re looking for something to demonstrate just how far superhero comics have infected the Academy, the traditional elite determinant of what qualifies as fine art, here you go. Unfortunately, this early review is quite negative.
If I were to judge these poems by the titles alone (as we all sometimes do, staring at the table of contents) I’d be frothing at the mouth with the combination of comic-book fanboy geekcitement and poetic enthusiasm, but I can say with no exaggeration that every single one fell flat… the allusions and plays on the elements of race-as-real-life-X-men-style-discrimination and race in general are telegraphed from so far out and laid out so simply one has to be left wondering what Jackson thought he was getting away with here. There’s no complexity, no ambiguity, no richness at all to be had in the way any of these themes play out.