Poetry is useless

In Poetry is Useless, Anders Nilsen redefines the sketchbook format, intermingling elegant, densely detailed renderings of mythical animals, short comics drawn in ink, meditations on religion, and abstract shapes and patterns. Page after page gives way under Nilsen's deft hatching and perfectly placed pen strokes, revealing his intellectual curiosity and wry outlook on life's many surprises. Stick people debate the dubious merits of economics. Immaculately stippled circles become looser and looser, as craters appear on their surface. A series of portraits capture the backs of friends' heads. For ten or twenty pages at a time Poetry is Useless becomes a travel diary, in which Nilsen shares anecdotes about his voyages in Europe and North America. A trip to Colombia for a comics festival is recounted in carefully drawn city streets and sketches made in cafes.

Poetry is Useless reveals seven years of Nilsen's life and musings: beginning in 2007, it covers a substantial period of his comics career to date, and includes visual reference to his books, such as Dogs & Water, Rage of Poseidon, and the New York Times Notable Book Big Questions. This expansive sketchbook-as-graphic-novel is exquisitely packaged with appendices and a foreword from the author.

Published by Drawn & Quarterly in 2015.



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This exquisitely curated collection offers an enjoyable, provocative and visually absorbing read; one worth taking in large doses to fully appreciate the evocative power of Nilsen’s treatment of his theme. Poetry may be useless—ephemeral, fragile, beautiful—but its point here is well taken.
— PopMatter
Poetry is Useless contains an alluring mix of dreaminess and polemics, simple and intricate, mess and neatness. Reading less-edited strata like this is almost like looking out through the artist’s eyes, and indeed Nilsen returns over and over to the idea of stepping inside someone else’s skin.
— Paste