A stretch of colour,
Anchored through light and water;
Doubled then dissolved.
Haiku and photography by Daniel Williams.
I champion the broken things:
Old-town busted concrete aprons
In front of renamed stores.
The quiet, soft, lurking decay
Slowly overcoming the catalogs left
On the floor of the abandoned ranch.
This is the straightening of the line:
The gentle, slow return to mean as
“New” and “improved” fade.
Sink your hand into the loam
the rasp and scrape of buried pebbles, bits
of brick, mortar, snail shells, nails
from a lost house of a lost century
to slide by your hand. Allow
the slugs and earthworms.
Allow the dirt.
Sink to your wrist.
The earth will grant you this, it is heavy
with last night’s rain, the earth is wet and waiting
and you are not an interloper, you
are standing on the bones of your grandparents.
Close your eyes.
Your eyes are in your fingers, in the dark
tunnels your fingers have made,
flushed and throbbing
with the red light of blood
as you slide by other times
and grasp for the remnant you need,
the hard cold thing in the sandy ground
covering your family’s dead,
the dark hard thing that’s waiting to be found:
the last bulb of the purple crocuses
that you’ll replant next fall in cooler earth.
Bio: Brooke Baker Belk has been writing since age 9, when her poem “Cat” was published in her elementary school’s magazine. She still writes about cats. Brooke is interested in English in all its forms; she studied Anglo-Saxon (Old English) in college, and thinks of poetry as a sort of excavation, one in which the bones of our modern language can show up unexpectedly and beautifully. Further thoughts on poetry live at brookebelk.com. Brooke lives in Durham, North Carolina, with her husband and her cats.
after Paul Nash.
In the time it would take for the light from the moon
to evaporate the oceans we could begin to
pile up an island with the collected dreck of wars. Downed
planes, tanks like evacuated beetles and other
chewed vehicles would provide rigor mortis foundations.
The island would be looking as if it was badly
tin foiled. Then we could skim the globe, lifting bits up
like finger nails – acned sabres, tobacco
cannons and mistakable buttons. But after the obvious
litter how do we then reclaim all the flint
axe-heads for some placement? Do we include found pots
and pans once loved by men more than
pikes and javelins? And what of the articles of the innocent –
was the trunk of sleeping schoolbooks never
opened after a certain siren? Were the child’s ditched
bike and the winded radio still tuned
to a mother’s favourite station forgotten beyond a rupture?
What experience is created when the textual and the visual function in sync? ’Alchemy of Water’, a collaborative project between poets Tony Curtis and Grahame Davies and photographers Mari Owen and Carl Ryan, published in 2013 by Gomer Press, strongly informs the concept behind this project as a whole. The book lays both elements side by side. Each concise, imagistic poem is a direct reaction to the picture reproduced on its corresponding page. This allows the reader clear insight into their interaction, a dialogue between the Welsh landscape and two of its prolific writers. Here, Curtis senses the pull of national identity in the movement of the south Wales tide:
Dawn over Swansea Bay:
the wet sand is filling with sky.
The boat’s chains are a rich and heavy necklace.
Those rust-ochre links will tie you to this place
whatever the rise of the tide,
whatever the blue-grey weather brings,
whenever the sea sings in these chains.
The sparseness of Curtis’ language, the use of sibilance and its subsequent musicality, intimately crafts a broader semantic resonance to the image. Each poem presents how emotional content can be derived from the landscape and how it has been pictured, also acknowledging the continual draw of its specifics and uniqueness. The interaction between word and image, in any manifestation, is what this project aims to continue to explore.
Haiku is an ancient Japanese poetic form, yet through its characteristics it continues to be suited to contemporary poetry. There are several reasons for this lasting relevance. One, the haiku is grounded in compression, and an economy of the language used. Every word is made to carry weight, and must subsequently add to the piece as a whole, avoiding the superfluous. This provides a structure and guidance for the writer to focus-in on and crystallise an idea or image. Through this process, every unnecessary element is stripped back to leave a clear observation.
With this in mind, the form has high compatibility with observation in general. Its style is tied to every-day events and the perception of these, and, as a result, haiku often provide sharp snap-shots of the ordinary. Arguably, this snap-shot like quality is most comparable to the techniques of photography and film, in that the poem is able to take a single moment and hold it still, letting it echo, preserving it to be viewed and experienced again at a later time. In our fast-paced society, we feel it compulsory to record our experiences through the technology immediately at our fingertips, our phones and digital cameras. The haiku, then, could be seen to form part of a linguistic equivalent to capturing events visually, able to embody not only what was observed, but also give a sense of its importance to and effect on us, further communicating this to the reader. The importance of this interaction is explained by scholar David Cobb, who notes:
‘The appreciation of haiku is a matter of collaboration between poet and reader, the one (to use a metaphor from photography) exposing something to the light, and the other developing it. As well as being half-stated, it is also under-stated, with sparing resort to the eye-catching metaphor or the subjective attribute, which might be said to be typical of much Western poetry. Haiku aims to be plain and simple, but at the same time subtle.’
Through this simplicity, haiku is particularly attuned to nature, especially the progress of the seasons. In traditionally formal haiku, one key word, called a kigo, acts as a general evocation of nature or of human activities at that time of year. This reminder to maintain a greater awareness of nature has been an underlying catalyst for poetry throughout history, and in our own time the haiku serves to help us tune back in to the world we inhabit. This attitude is perhaps best exemplified in the words of Chigetsu:
the song bird’s song-
it stops what I am doing
at the sink
This project maintains an interdisciplinary approach, interested in all matters textual and visual. Poetry is a specialism, but we will also be looking to feature travel/life writing, critical pieces and articles, and some short fiction. We have a current interest in textual work being presented in conjunction with photography or a sequence of photographs, but will also accept individual pieces of writing and photography in their own right. Alongside this we would be pleased to hear what informs the practitioner’s work and their interests. This content will be gathered with a view to producing a regular e-zine.
Work which has been previously published or is currently under consideration elsewhere will be accepted at this stage. The author will retain full rights to their work. The project is seeking to be a space where individuals can show case their work and ideas freely.
With this in mind, all submissions will receive an individual response, as we hope to enter into dialogue with new or up and coming writers and photographers, and will subsequently offer feedback and discussion of their work.
We run a further blog at: http://long-exposure.tumblr.com/
Submissions and other enquiries can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please use ‘Long Exposure Submission’ as your subject, and send work either in the body of the e-mail or as an attachment. We are looking for a maximum of 6 poems or photographs or 2 to 3 prose pieces per submission, although photography submissions may be negotiable if the work is an extended sequence. You can also include a short bio detailing your work to date if you wish.
We look forward to reading and viewing your masterpieces.
What happens when words and pictures interact? How do texts and images help us understand ourselves and the world, and what is their value today? What can they tell us about aspects of our lives such as history and identity, both personal and further afield? What do we draw from them, as well as put into them?
These are some of the questions this project aims to explore.
We are looking to receive and discuss new, original or innovate writing and photography, keeping a very broad and open focus. The project aims to be a platform for new and emerging writers and photographers to present their work in a creative and encouraging environment, with the material gathered going toward the production of a regular e-zine.