Friday, April 13, 2012

Beauty to Memory and The Scarf Prose Poetry Collaboration with Liz Brennan live at Perhaps, Maybe

Poet Liz Brennan (who I’m happy to claim as my writing buddy for the last five plus years) and I have finally gotten around to collaborating with poetry, thanks to Liz’s gentle invitation and perseverance (I’m eternally grateful as I’ve been suffering from a poetry lull, having allowed the hats of editing, blogging, interviewing, teaching, to eclipse the midnight muse).

Liz’s blog reminds me of a mobius strip; she’s arrived at an ingenious structure, each week posting a tiny prose poem that begins, Perhaps….Followed by a second prose poem that begins, Maybe…

Here are our first two collaborations, with others in the wings:

Beauty to Memory

The Scarf  (here, the obsession with Amelia Earhart—how could it not—goes on, so if you liked this poem and you haven’t seen the photo poem montage yet—a prior collaboration with photographer Robyn Beattie, check it out here: Amelia

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Rescue of Ophelia and Nefertiti Among Us live at Stone Canoe, Online

Painting by Christine DeCamp
I’m happy to announce two poems up at Stone Canoe, Online. I’ve given you the url to the table of contents, in hopes you’ll give the whole line-up a read, for such line gems buried in the poems of my fellow contributors as “the sculpted mothers/who stood on the lawn amid maple leaves/ in fetal denial” (Nikolae Babuts, Lockerbie), “farm roads are clothes on other people” (Paul Doty, Pink Barn Eye), “jonquiled moon” (Gayle Elen Harvey, In Praise of the Dark), “Color your hair, darling, if you must” (Jay Rogoff, Dyeing), “calling the girl I was” (Kathleen Tenpas, The Calling), “Often I’m as helpless as a sleeping cowboy” (Thom Ward, And There is Beauty in Cracked Sidewalks).

Poem 1: The Rescue of Ophelia was inspired by one of Christine DeCamp’s paintings. I lived with the image in my house for several years before writing the poem (an earlier blogpost chronicles this process). Between then and now, DeCamp embarked on the journey of creating her own tarot deck. Ophelia now features as one of these cards. Visit DeCamp’s site to learn more about this beautiful project.

Poem 2: Nefertiti Among Us under-girds a parallel project as well. Robyn Beattie and I are fast at work making the companion photo poem montage, featuring Steve Pryputniewicz on the piano with another Bela Bartok selection and as always, Robyn’s mesmerizing and intricate photographs (featured in our three prior movies).

The print version of Stone Canoe just arrived in my mailbox; last weekend waiting for my daughter to emerge from an Easter Egg hunt, I sprawled out in the grass under a no-cloud sky and immersed myself in a rich field of poems, interrupted only by the occasional misjudged hops over my midriff (the two sons, 6 and 9, heavy enough now to efficiently knock the wind out squarely out of me…"just…let me…

…finish…this stanza…")

(after I’d said to my husband, “Why don’t you put away the iphone and just Be With Us…”

…the 6 year old slyly remarked, “Mom, why don’t you put away that book…and…

 …just Be With Us…”)

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

AROHO Speaks, Writer to Writer: Interview with Jan La Roche

A Room of Her Own Foundation is gearing up to accept applications for its 6th Gift of Freedom Award. The most recent Gift of Freedom Award winner, Summer Wood, (author of Wrecker) speaks about the award on She Writes this week here.

Here’s the latest gem in our series of interviews celebrating A Room of Her Own Foundation's Summer 2011 Retreat (from the interview team: Lisa Rizzo, Marlene Samuels, Barbara Ann Yoder and yours truly). In the following interview excerpt, writer Jan La Roche turns her poet’s eye on a brief history of photography and explores how the metaphors of photographic process lend inspiration to her work.

Jan La Roche
Can you describe for us what you’re currently working on?

For the past four years I have been working on a manuscript titled, Vernacular. It is a title with two meanings. Most people first think of this word associated with language currently being spoken in a region of the world. Being a photographer who has studied art history and photo history as an undergraduate and as a graduate student, I first learned the term vernacular as a turn of the twentieth century reference.

Kodak introduced the Kodak #1 camera in 1888 with a 100 exposure roll of film inside it. Americans went wild shooting snap shots of everyone and everything around them. Simple everyday moments of life in pictures were done for the pure joy of something new without restrictions of art trends, commerce or advertising. Alfred Stieglitz, Georgia O’Keeffe’s husband, started the Photo Succession and Pictorialist movements in rebellion to the random pictures of the masses. As an advocate of the aesthetic, he made photography into an art form.

My poems are written for the pleasure of discovery. I never know how they will turn out until written on the page. My spiral notebook is a playground where all ideas run free. Margins have more points and additions scribbled in. The surface of the page is covered with possibilities. It all hangs out there until transcribed on the laptop into stanzas. The process is similar to pre-digital photography because back then I knew what I was trying to capture, but didn’t know if the picture was successful until printed and scrutinized for detail.

Over the years I have added more poems to Vernacular that pertain to different aspects of the photographic process such as when I managed a one-hour lab in the ‘80’s, “loads of film piled up/on my left like linguini.” When I described using a camera that “memoirs light” and “sees what is invisible,” I transformed a technical object into a magical art form. In the darkroom tray “an idea floats on water” and those pictures “outlive their biological cameras.” Another poem talked about conducting light as if it were music in an orchestra. The photographic poems emerge when the muse develops another idea. I cannot rush this collection, it would show. As it continues to grow, each poem is a nuance of photography that was, or is, a part of my life. Read more here.