The aim of this exercise (and Assignment Two) is to encourage you to develop metaphorical and visceral interpretations rather than obvious and literal ones, to give a sense of something rather than a record of it..
Choose a poem that resonates with you then interpret it through photographs. Don’t attempt to describe the poem but instead give a sense of the feeling of the poem and the essence it exudes.
Start by reading the poem a few times (perhaps aloud) and making a note of the feelings and ideas it promotes, how you respond to it, what it means to you and the mental images it raises in your mind. Next, think about how you’re going to interpret this visually and note down your ideas in your learning log.
You may choose to develop this idea into creating a short series of images reflecting your personal response to the poem (or another poem). Write some reflective notes about how you would move the above exercise on.
The number of pictures you choose to produce for the exercises and assignments in this course, including this one, is up to you. Try to keep in mind the following tips for knowing when you have done enough/not done enough:
• Are the images repeating themselves? Are there three versions of the same picture for example? Can you take two out?
• Does each image give a different point of view or emphasise a point you want to make?
• Do the images sit well together visually?
• Have you given the viewer enough information? Would another picture help?
Pat Ingoldsby is an Irish poet (1942 – ). He started his career as a children’s TV show host. He has written several books, short stories and he also worked as a Newspaper columnist before becoming a poet. I first read his work in the Newspaper. While shopping in Dublin city, in 1999, my husband came across Pat selling his books on the street. They chatted and he purchased his latest book, Beautiful Cracked Eyes, for me (1) .
I love Pat’s audacity. Because he self publishes he is not beholden to anyone but himself and his two cats. I chose the poem “What The Daffodils looked like before William Wordsworth wrote it” because the original Wordsworth poem featured so strongly in all school curricula and any poetry reading I ever attended. By the time we had read and dissected The Daffodils at school and subsequently all spontaneity and appreciation of it evaporated for me. I felt Ingoldsby’s idea to show a blank page to indicate that this poem, before it was written but was still in Wordsworth’s mind, was fresh and beautiful. But once children were forced to learn and memorise it the beauty fades.
The other aspect I wanted to show, as an explanation of why there are no words in the poem, was Pat’s free spirit which is guided only by his will and his two cats Hoot and Willow. So I chose a quote from another of his poems, “This is for you” , to caption the image of the book cover. This poem details Pat’s philosophy on avoiding regular publishers and all the circus activities around book launching.
The third image I chose was a detail from the dedication Pat wrote on the fly leaf of my book. Pat’s cats are his constant companions. I captioned this image with a quote from “Willow Publications Board Meeting”. Again this emphasises Pat’s horror of board meetings and all things regimented and organised. If he had had board members and publishers before publishing “What The Daffodils looked like before Wordsworth wrote it”. it would never have seen the light of day. This would have been a tragedy as it speaks louder than words about publishing constraints and the way we read and hear poetry.
Finally I felt it only fair to Wordsworth to make a composite image of his poem superimposed on an image of Wordsworth.
While visiting The Lambert Collection in MOMA Avignon to see the Andres Seerano Exhibition I came across the following work by Akarawa in the general Lambert Collection, which I thought fitted in with this exercise. I am not sure if I should tell Pat Ingoldsby!
- Ingoldsby, P, 1999. beautiful cracked eyes. 1st ed. Dublin: Colour Books Ltd.