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The Art of the Possible!: Comics Mainly Without Pictures

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The Art of the Possible: Comics Mostly without Pictures is infused with the same energetic wordplay, humor, and tenderness as the best of Koch's poems, and illustrated and lettered in his own hand, studded with visual puns and jokes, peopled with recognizable characters from the worlds of arts and letters. Recurring themes and serial comics include: the Brer Comics, starri The Art of the Possible: Comics Mostly without Pictures is infused with the same energetic wordplay, humor, and tenderness as the best of Koch's poems, and illustrated and lettered in his own hand, studded with visual puns and jokes, peopled with recognizable characters from the worlds of arts and letters. Recurring themes and serial comics include: the Brer Comics, starring Brer Fox and his love interest Ella; the Virgil Thompson comics, set in the Chelsea Hotel and featuring Aaron Copland, John Cage, Lillian Hellman, Twiggy, Miles Davis, and other fab figures of the milieu; the Autobiography Comics, which tell of the birth of Koch's daughter Angela; the Artist in his Studio Comics; and the Dead White Man Comics. In the final comic in collection, "Global Charming," Koch writes: "A phenomenon is isolated called 'Global Charming.' Here's what it means: Life on earth becomes more and more delightful," and The Art of the Possible is our best evidence of that assertion. Part journal, part sketchbook, and wholly original, here is a window into the life and art of one of America's most treasured poets and teachers.


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The Art of the Possible: Comics Mostly without Pictures is infused with the same energetic wordplay, humor, and tenderness as the best of Koch's poems, and illustrated and lettered in his own hand, studded with visual puns and jokes, peopled with recognizable characters from the worlds of arts and letters. Recurring themes and serial comics include: the Brer Comics, starri The Art of the Possible: Comics Mostly without Pictures is infused with the same energetic wordplay, humor, and tenderness as the best of Koch's poems, and illustrated and lettered in his own hand, studded with visual puns and jokes, peopled with recognizable characters from the worlds of arts and letters. Recurring themes and serial comics include: the Brer Comics, starring Brer Fox and his love interest Ella; the Virgil Thompson comics, set in the Chelsea Hotel and featuring Aaron Copland, John Cage, Lillian Hellman, Twiggy, Miles Davis, and other fab figures of the milieu; the Autobiography Comics, which tell of the birth of Koch's daughter Angela; the Artist in his Studio Comics; and the Dead White Man Comics. In the final comic in collection, "Global Charming," Koch writes: "A phenomenon is isolated called 'Global Charming.' Here's what it means: Life on earth becomes more and more delightful," and The Art of the Possible is our best evidence of that assertion. Part journal, part sketchbook, and wholly original, here is a window into the life and art of one of America's most treasured poets and teachers.

30 review for The Art of the Possible!: Comics Mainly Without Pictures

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brenna

    A conceptual book designed partly as an homage to the comic strips of days gone by, The Art of the Possible demonstrates - or attempts to demonstrate - how the world of reality confounds where the realm of artistry and poetry liberate. Kenneth Koch, known more for his (relatively) mainstream poetry than for his draftsmanship, has created a book wherein poems bleed together even after the page stops. He looks at Brer Fox in Disneyland ("The Brer Facts are These / Brer Fox / May Not be a Fox at All A conceptual book designed partly as an homage to the comic strips of days gone by, The Art of the Possible demonstrates - or attempts to demonstrate - how the world of reality confounds where the realm of artistry and poetry liberate. Kenneth Koch, known more for his (relatively) mainstream poetry than for his draftsmanship, has created a book wherein poems bleed together even after the page stops. He looks at Brer Fox in Disneyland ("The Brer Facts are These / Brer Fox / May Not be a Fox at All / But a Man Walt Disney Dreamed Up Long Ago / In a Different Time"), Mao Tse Tung, and Virgil Thompson - all without actually rendering any of these characters further than, at most, a rudimentary silhouette representing the character. This is simply a book of poetry formatted in underground comics form. To deem a poem arbitrarily "good" or "bad" would do any poet or writer an injustice. Instead, it becomes necessary to study the form of these poems - or, does the innovative format help or hinder the work? In many senses, it does both - and neither. The primitive artwork dissects the page, serving as a visual representative of something but not so closely as to be instantly recognizable. In fact, in places, Koch himself seems to be playing with his apparent artistic ineptitude (for instance, in the "Kenya Comics" sequences - the outline of a blocky elephant with trunk upraised serves also as a crude sketch of a man with right arm held as if being sworn in during trial). The format distracts, and yet the poems themselves would not exist in any other way - at least, not without undergoing vast adaptation. Also, it is impossible to accept the book without having some knowledge of Koch's background, and capabilities, as a poet and instructor. As bizarre and unskilled The Art of the Possible may seem to the outside observer, it represents Koch's ideology that poetry ought to be engaging and all-encompassing, that it ought not isolate itself from such low-brow forms of artistry as comics, for example. Koch himself was viewed as a threat by at least one group, the flamboyant anti-art collaboration "Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers," when a late-1960s poetry reading was forcefully interrupted by a member of this group who fired a shot at Koch (which, fortunately, turned out to be a blank). The Art of the Possible is a display of what poetry can be... but it remains difficult to look past the presentation of the material to see the content therein. Perhaps time will present alternate takes of a similar theme, thereby making Koch more of a pioneer than an "outside artist" within a concept of his own invention. As it stands, the book is more of an anomaly than an outré fusion of both comics and poetry.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    Koch’s comic book verse is entertaining, but not brilliant. The title poem and the closing poem are the book’s best. “The Art of the Possible/ Credo: / Vanishing is impossible / Lasting is impossible / Being in two places at once / is impossible / Instantly knowing Spanish is impossible / Living in the midst of ten thousand / panes of glass is impossible / Being simultaneously masked / And unmasked is impossible / Except in art / Art is the art of the possible.” And: “Global Charming Comics / A Koch’s comic book verse is entertaining, but not brilliant. The title poem and the closing poem are the book’s best. “The Art of the Possible/ Credo: / Vanishing is impossible / Lasting is impossible / Being in two places at once / is impossible / Instantly knowing Spanish is impossible / Living in the midst of ten thousand / panes of glass is impossible / Being simultaneously masked / And unmasked is impossible / Except in art / Art is the art of the possible.” And: “Global Charming Comics / A phenomenon / is isolated / called ‘Global / Charming’ // Here’s what / it means: / Every day / in every / way // Life on / Earth becomes / more and more / delightful // This is hard to believe // Nonethe-/ less, if / it is a / fact, it / is a / fact / To Be Continued…” The poems are rendered in comic book lettering, are doodled in boxes and decorated with squiggles and line drawings. Two paired, vertically curved lines, enormous open parentheses, shape the poem called Bosom Comics. One open parenthesis contains the words: “Night / After / Night” The other, the words “I / Wait / For You / To Call”. Clever words, clever presentation.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    A must read for anyone interested in poetry comics. NY Art Magazine's review of the work is well written. http://www.nyartsmagazine.com/?p=2940 A must read for anyone interested in poetry comics. NY Art Magazine's review of the work is well written. http://www.nyartsmagazine.com/?p=2940

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    It's a neat idea, but the book seems to drag and lean on the concept rather than having poems that can stand on themselves. The synergy of image and text isn't as fruitful as I'd hoped. It's a neat idea, but the book seems to drag and lean on the concept rather than having poems that can stand on themselves. The synergy of image and text isn't as fruitful as I'd hoped.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David

  6. 4 out of 5

    J.F.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Martin Murray

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lucy

  9. 4 out of 5

    John Ervin

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leah

  11. 4 out of 5

    David

  12. 5 out of 5

    Abraham

  13. 4 out of 5

    Michaël Garcia

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lincoln

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paula

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

  18. 4 out of 5

    tai

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brandon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jwolfe83wr

  21. 4 out of 5

    James Payne

  22. 5 out of 5

    Pierre

  23. 4 out of 5

    N

  24. 5 out of 5

    Melmoth

  25. 5 out of 5

    Martin Sharry

  26. 5 out of 5

    Roshan

  27. 4 out of 5

    Karna Mustaqim

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alex

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gregg

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jessy

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