The Poetry of Comics: A Conversation with Collage Artist Mita Mahato
“Comics made the confusion and desperation feel contained. By ‘contained’ I don’t mean controlled—more the feeling of ‘I can deal with this piece of my grief, explore it, turn it around, and add context to it.’”
This is The Poetry of Comics, a series of conversations with artists working at the intersection of comics and poetry.
eerie and enchanting poetry comicsVisual Poetry Series
Eliza Harris: I’d love to know more about how you came to call your work poetry comics.
How am I rhyming visually? What might enjambed panels look like? Is this visual alliteration?I can see why this category fits my work
EH: Speaking of elegies, your poetry comix are often about loss, both environmental and personal. Why this medium for that subject?
nothingcontainedcontrolled I can deal with this piece of my grief, explore it, turn it around, and add context to itplay
EH: Can you talk about why you sometimes spell with an ?
EH: In line with the countercultural history of underground comix, your own work often exposes and interrogates capitalist destruction. Do you think there’s something about comics/comix that lends itself to cultural critique?
EH: Of course I want to talk more about your book In Between. I love that title because of how this book exists between comix, poetry, cut paper, and collage, and the characters within it are also somewhere in between human and animal. What does mean for you in relation to this book?
EH: One of my favorite pieces of yours is “IT’SALLOVER And Other Poems on Animals.” In that series of poems, you repeat trite phrases and string the words together in a way that, for me, both emptied them of meaning and somehow also made them feel more sincere. What was your aim with these poems?
What do I have to offer in the face of planetary global loss and extinction that my own consumer habits are contributing to?
How can we grieve better?
EH: I had the pleasure of visiting your installation “We are contaminated by our encounters” at Common Area Maintenance in Seattle, another work drawing attention to ecological loss. In your description of the installation, you quote Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing’s The Mushroom at the End of the World: On the Possibility of Life in Capitalist Ruins:
“The ‘survival’ featured in U.S. television shows or alien-planet stories is a synonym for conquest and expansion. I will not use the term that way. Please open yourself to another usage. . . . [S]taying alive—for every species—requires livable collaborations. Collaboration means working across difference, which leads to contamination. Without collaborations, we all die” (Tsing 27, 28).
I’d love to hear more about this installation and how you see collaboration as a part of your work.
EH: Could you tell me about your process of making cut-paper and collage comix?
I’m looking for this particular word or a photo of this animal
EH: What artists would you recommend for readers interested in the intersection of poetry and comics?
EH: What projects are you working on currently?
Eliza Harris is an editorial assistant for Catapult, Social Media Manager + Assistant Poetry Editor for DIAGRAM, and Director of Communications for The Speakeasy Project. She grew up in Durham, North Carolina, and is now based in Seattle, Washington. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram @elizaeharris.
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