Pained, tender, and vividly rendered, this elegy for the Anthropocene twines the couple’s philosophical, scientific, and highly personal musings with arresting, often disquieting visions of a natural world in dangerous flux, where “thawing earth” lets loose “corpse-y smells” and ash continually falls. For the couple and readers alike, time is unclear, the days and seasons drifting past, the children growing, the sky dying. In crisp, inviting lines with no wasted words, Ingram sets down perceptions, wishes, bursts of nostalgia, finding surprising beauty where you might expect despair. The effect is a portrait not just of a changed world but of changed people, bound by love but facing existential questions.
Alice and Antius centers on the couple’s drift of mind as the Earth burns humanity away rather than factions and battles common to post-apocalyptic fiction. Brianna Tosswill’s illustrations pair memorably with the verse, capturing the couple in a dance, imagining practicalities like how a roller-bag suitcase could make a crib, and tying the layout together with landscapes, eclipses, and boiling skies.
Takeaway: This moving, gorgeous novel in verse imagines the lives and minds of lovers facing a world ravaged by climate change.
Great for fans of: C.D. Wright’s Casting Deep Shade, Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
The following review will appear online in early 2022. It has been featured here with the permission of Independent Book Review.
By Alexanda Barbush
'An artful narrative poem that superimposes godly relics of ancient time and Greek myth over the ever-increasing realness of the climate disaster.'
Alice and Antius, written by Kit Ingram and illustrated by Brianna Tosswill, is a poignant piece of art that is irrefutably beautifully staged. Ingram and Tosswill showcase the reali- ty of our current climate crisis with mythological language, ethos, and characters from Ancient Greece. Ingram’s foreword and notes on the text help make the book accessible for readers unaware of the book’s backdrop and situation.
Interlaced with common language, Greek words, and mythological references, Ingram tells the sad story of Alice and Antius: two lovers, presumed as male and female and described as mother and father (and illustrated as such). These lovers wake and immediately discuss their everyday life, banana french toast at a favorite restaurant. Assumed to be mythological, if not god/goddess, Alice and Antius are illustrated almost as nymphs and we carry that assumption throughout the narrative, that they are, in the very least, not merely human, although they are very much predisposed to the same issues that plague mortals, and us, today.
Almost immediately the effects of climate change and catastrophe are apparent and affect the protagonists. They bemoan the erosion of their land, ponder changes that could or would be made to save them, along with their fellow gods, goddesses, and mortals. Among the narrative lyrics are illustrated splices of newspaper headlines that point to real world, current issues of climate disaster: the rapidly melting ice that has so altered walruses’ habitat, oil spills, and environmental protesters.
The nymph-like beings continue their journey, looking for more hospitable lands and along the way live to the best of their ability, like we all do. They have a family and worry about their children’s future in a decaying world, the same way we do. They index and ration their supplies, taking heed of how long they can continue in an increasingly hostile natural world. Their bleak ending, along with the world’s, is the ultimate message of heartbreak and desolation—what Ingram says is before us, in the ever-increasing threat of climate disaster.
Ingram and Toswill’s illustrated narrative poem is beautifully and whimsically created. Toswill’s illustrations are so complementary to the text that I’d argue they constitute a work of art, in and of itself.
I’d recommend Alice and Antius to anyone who enjoys poetry, effectual illustration, or has an interest in the climate crisis. The poem is beautifully performed and while an interest in Greek myth is helpful, it isn’t all together necessary to understand the main points.
Human or myth, we’re all dying as our earth dies. Ingram’s point is bleak, and his narrative follows a similar tone of initial love, hopefulness, and creative truth, only to fall to our real world actions and consequences.
An artful blending of storytelling and painful facts, Alice and Antius is a heartfelt take on our current situation with all the imagery and poetic license of our best canonical works of poetry.