By M.D. Usher, and Illustrated by T. Motley
Tom Motley sent me a perfect bound square (6.5×6.5″) 88 page book that he illustrated. It was nice to see Tom’s wild drawings in a book like this. Tom has some illustrations in my anthology, AFTER THAT!, and I see his cartoons on Instagram alot. I am always blown away at the experimental nature of his inking. In this book, it’s on full display and in full color.
The first half of the book is a mash-up poem (known as a “cento”), like what is often done with songs as they get remixed and fused together. The fragments of these poems are from pieces by various poets of the western European-derived literature canon. The poem is illustrated, or rather the script is illuminated, by Motley’s illustrations and decorative calligraphy. This takes up the first 48 pages of the book and printed on a yellow parchment paper. This gives the colors a warm tone throughout.
For the second half of the book, you’re basically sitting down in M.D. Usher’s literature class to learn about the various poets whose works were remixed to create the cento. Motley does an illustrated profile pic for each poet. As an English minor myself, I learned cool stuff! Much of this history was skipped over in classes I took (or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention in my 8am classes?). I even learned about the origins of the real live Mother Goose, which was fun.
The book lying around the house was eye catching to my wife who made a comment about how fun it is to see words exploding off the page, and I couldn’t agree more. For anyone trying to understand what poetry is trying to do to your brain, this is a good simulation.
Poem: A Mashup is available on bookshop.org
You can also explore comix by T. Motley here: tmotley.com