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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Is Poetry Less Literary Than a Novel?

Angie Schiavone in The Brisbane Times has an article on The Arrival, a book by illustrator Shaun Tan, which has taken top honours at the New South Wales Premier’s Awards.

illustrationTan, along with other award recipients at the Sydney Writers’ Festival, was asked, to give a reading from his book. “I think I’ll just say ‘talk amongst yourselves,”‘ he joked before the event, because his 128 page book, The Arrival, does not contain one word of text.

Illustration is not often seen as literature, but of those who argue that a book without words is unworthy of literary acclaim, Tan asks: “How many words does something have to have before it becomes literature? Is poetry less literary than a novel?”

You can catch an online preview of some pages. ‘Through a series of connecting images, it tells the story of an anonymous migrant leaving some unfortunate circumstances in his home country, crossing an ocean to a strange new city, and learning how to live there.’

Thanks to The Kenyon Review blog for the pointer

3 Responses to “Is Poetry Less Literary Than a Novel?”

  1. Lee says:

    Thanks for the link to the preview. Tan is wonderful. Here is a link to part one of a recent interview with him (parts two and three also available):

    jb says: Thanks for the link, Lee. He’s an interesting man as well as a great illustrator.

  2. Suzan Abrams says:

    John, you asked if poetry was less literary than a novel? I would quite simply answer, No John, for me, it isn’t. Not at all. Except that perhaps it gives the feel of a little more idealism than prose.

  3. Pearl says:

    Depends on the poetry and the novel. Catherine Kidd’s Missing the Ark is quite poetic to me. Newbie poetry is not terribly literary.

    Interesting choice for literary award. His images are quite metaphor-filled.

    jb says: Hi Pearl. The images are certainly striking.