Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Words and pictures

Or word pictures. That's part of what we do, right?

I'm getting ready for our annual anniversary trip to Lummi Island—our seventh year celebrating our anniversary there and our tenth anniversary.

I thought that maybe I should get a real camera—maybe one of those disposable digital cameras, which is real but not too real—instead of relying the pictures that my cell phone takes.

Then I wondered whether I would still need poems if I had pictures. A momentary anxiety, sung to the drum of "a picture's worth a thousand words." And a face could launch a thousand ships. Anything else?

But it got me thinking about how visual images and written images play off each other and add to each other. And it led me to think about what a poem offers beyond visual images. For me, a visual image is often, or more often than not, a starting point. The poetry part comes in moving beyond that visual image—and sometimes I don't get so far. I think that in The Triggering Town, Richard Hugo calls this "writing off the subject." For me, that's the challenge.

Any tricks, tips, suggestions, or exercises for moving a poem beyond the visual?

And I'll try to get my act together and bring back some photographs.

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