A guest post from Naomi Woddis about ‘Picture This’, a photography-poetry project.
If you had asked me last year about the connections to be made between photography and poetry I would have happily reeled off a list including the imagistic quality of both, that they share a distinct and recognisable language as well as requiring some sort of formal skill and technique. My current photo-poetry project, Picture This, did not arrive with a lightbulb moment in the middle of the night; instead it was the constriction of illness that gave rise to the work.
For many months now I have been pretty much housebound with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and although this has proved to be one of the most challenging periods in my life, it has given me the opportunity to examine my creative process from a new perspective. I had no idea what I was starting when I began. I would struggle out in to the garden in my pyjamas, camera in hand, and take a photograph, then another and another. As the weeks passed I realised I had created a meaningful portfolio of work and a record of the small changes that occur in the unexamined. Before I got ill I lived life at such a speed many of my experiences where a fairground ride blur. Now it was stillness and repetition that had allowed me to stop and focus, to witness the moment in all its subtle and ever-changing detail.
But something did not feel complete. I was homesick for my writing community. I also knew that these images needed the gentle re-interpretation that only my poetic kin could offer. I invited a small number of respected poets to take part. They were to choose just one image and write a piece, no longer than 40 lines in response. I have been overwhelmed by the number of replies guaranteeing that this project will run for many months to come.
Now if you ask me about the links to be made between photography and poetry my answer would be simple – photographers and poets alike know how fleeting and precious the moment is, and it is our job to preserve and celebrate these moments.
You can find out more about Picture This, and Naomi’s work, here.