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The Rime of the Modern Mariner


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A thrilling mixture of four-tone brush and hatchwork, and a powerful new poem, THE RIME OF THE MODERN MARINER recasts the shimmering horror of Coleridge?s famous story into a contemporary context.

About the Author

Nick Hayes has published two collections of his short comics, Lovely Grey Day and 11 Folk Songs. He is the founding editor of Meat magazine, a periodical which has been showcasing new writing, comics and illustration for the last six years - and has won two Guardian Media awards.


The updating of a literary classic is always fraught with peril-which could be why so many authors prefer to create their own offshoots (Sena Naslund's Ahab's Wife). But Hayes's startlingly fresh and innovative take on Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" could be studied as an example of how to modernize a classic without pretending to supplant the original. Hayes turns Coleridge's 1797 apocalyptic epic into an ecological warning, wherein a careless litterbug of a businessman is accosted by a sailor with burning eyes and a tale of woe. Part of the story mirrors Coleridge's (a carelessly murdered bird brings damnation upon the crusty mariner's vessal), but the atmospherics are more charged with the dangers of modernity. This mariner's boat is trapped in a floating archipelago of fouled plastic garbage (much like the real one, the size of a country, which swirls today in the Pacific), which mutely rebukes the viewpoint of the businessman and his "world detached of consequence." Hayes is a political cartoonist, and his writing isn't nearly as memorable as his illustrations, which convey the beauty of the world and the pity of its destruction with a gorgeous brand of vehemence. His panels, awash in light blues, swoop and flow like aquatic woodcuts of an earlier era. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

In the ominous beginning of this remastered Coleridge poem, the wedding guest is recast as a cynical young man who's just finalized his divorce, a "perfunctory affair" like his wedding had been. Visiting a park during the first chilly days of autumn, the divorce encounters a modern mariner burning to talk about his disturbing voyage to find whalebone for making dominoes. As the domino fancier tells it, he hired a ship under the table and was taking potshots at floating garbage to escape on deck boredom. A bird overhead offers more challenging sport, so he shoots the albatross as in the original poem. But now the floating detritus surging through the waves isn't just something to shoot at for kicks but a living nightmare showing him the consequences of human consumption and waste. VERDICT Hayes has crafted a real masterpiece of both writing and art. His rhymed text evokes Coleridge stylistically but with a contemporary, ecological message, and his swirling ink-and-teal wash drawings (with a woodcut feel) manage to be both beautiful and haunting. A good bet for teen literature classes, art/design folks, and fans of literary graphic novels.-M.C. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

"Nick Hayes has somehow or other managed to channel and combine the spirits of Coleridge, William Morris, the Romantic poets, most American 60s underground comix artists, probably Eric Gill, possibly a hippy chick who once offered you a bowl of lentils at Glastonbury and doubtlessly the fiercest eco-warrior you can imagine... and succeeded in producing something simultaneously poetical, polemical and frequently beautiful. An extraordinary achievement." -- Martin Rowson
"The Rime of the Modern Mariner achieves a powerful cumulative effect, and the Mariner's environmental message will surely influence many readers who will never casually discard another plastic carrier bag or water bottle" -- Paul Gravett * Times Literary Supplement *

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