Pictures in Poems, Poems in Pictures

There are pictures in poems and poems in pictures
— Chinese Proverb

My interest in photography began when I received my first camera, a Kodak Brownie, when I was still in elementary school.  My interest in poetry began first with reading poems, then later writing my own.   As a child I enjoyed the poems of Robert Louis Stephenson,

One of my first photos. Christmas 1964. I had a little trouble fitting everyone in the frame!

especially My Shadow, and  those of A.A. Milne : Forgiven, Spring Morning and The End.  I  Wandered Lonely as a Cloud by William Wordsworth, Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost, and the poems of Emily Dickinson and Sara Teasdale remain favorites today.  And Trees by Joyce Kilmer was the first poem I ever memorized.

I suppose I am a woman out of time as I prefer rhymed verse to free verse, which is more popular now.  I have written some free verse, but most often my muse comes to me in rhyme and as to where the muse comes from remains a mystery to me, I question it not, and write as I am instructed!  I think what draws me to both poetry and photography is the opportunity to paint a picture of my world, be it with words or with the lens of my camera..  And they work so well together!  Sometimes I take a picture that inspires a poem, other times I’ve written a poem and looking through my viewfinder, see the poem reflected in the image in the frame.  In this case, the picture preceded the poem:

Harbor Sunset

liquid drops of sunlight
sparkle in the bay
and reflect a sky awash in sunset hue
the trees along the shoreline
form a silhouette in gray
and the clouds amass in shades of dusky blue
suspended for the moment
between darkness and the day
I pause to fill my senses and renew
and with deep appreciation
I continue on my way
as the sunset in the harbor fades from view.

Poetry and photography are my “go – to” coping tools.  I can lose myself  for hours  composing a poem  or in trying to get the best exposure for a picture. and worries and concerns just drift away. Best of all,  both of them can be done outside, sitting in a pretty park or while hiking in the mountains..  Back at home I use the pictures and poems in greeting cards, scrapbooks and journals.  I’ve made beautiful books on http://www.snapfish.com

On a more personal level, I explore my feelings and improve my state of mind by writing poems reflecting my journey with Parkinson’s Disease.  Somehow, writing both prose and poetry help to transfer the fears and concerns from me to the paper.  I gladly let it absorb  the worries, and help me to stay in focus on more important things. ( More about this in my next post.)

So grab a notebook, pen and a camera and have some fun!

If you’ve haven’t explored writing poetry yet, here are a few helpful guides:

The Poetry Home Repair Manual by Ted Kooser
How to Write Poetry  published by Spark Publishing (www.sparknotes.com)
Word Painting by Rebecca McClanahan
The Describer’s Dictionary by David Grambs

For photography I recommend taking a class at a local community college.  It’s the best way to learn how to use your camera, especially if you are venturing into using a digital SLR. for the first time. All the buttons and knobs and settings on these cameras can be overwhelming.

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