Artwork for Artist: Fire and Ice Photography
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Boxed Set of 12 Poems and Photographs|
Set of twelve color photo cards with poems comprising the artist's "Works" collection.
Boxed Set of 12 Month Poems and Photographs|
Set of twelve color photo cards with poems, one for each month of the year.
The photo was taken while flying with a friend over Round Lake just off M-119. In the background is Little Traverse Bay. Both the poem and the photo happened years ago but had never put them together. A recent event inspired the combination. WORKS Series -- Photo card with poem.
Both the poem and photo happened in 1985. Estrangement from a loved one was the inspiration for the poem. I think few things are more graceful looking than swans and a minimalist poem works best. I think this is my shortest poem, and perhaps the best. It says the most in the fewest words. WORKS Series -- Photo card with poem
The poem was written after seeing one of my sisters grieve the loss of her husband. In thinking about it, the poem seemed to flow. Life is a creative process. What we create in the end is a memory. The photo was taken in 1979 in the Piegeon River State Forest near Vanderbilt.
Love the symmetry of the cat and totem pole. Either the poem or the image could be stand-alone, but I thought they belonged together. WORKS Series -- Photo card with poem.
The Day Ahead|
This poem was written not long after meeting my best friend and wife. I always envisioned the right image for it to be one that many photographers have captured. That is, streams of sunlight coming through the forest or clouds. I just never could catch it. More than thirty years after the poem was written, I saw the image on this card. It was midwinter, well below zero, and the sun was just coming up over the Maple River near the Dam Site Inn. WORKS Series -- Photo card with poem
The first and only time I ever entered a photo art show displaying both photography and poetry, a woman introduced herself as a member of the International Lilac Society. She wondered if I had any poems or photos of lilacs. I had a couple of photos but no poems. She was very enthusiastic about my "Poetography," and requested that I write a poem and put it with a photo. She also said she would submit it for possible publication on the Society web page. As a poet, my habit is to only write about things that inspire me. This was a difficult challenge. She explained the importance of lilacs. Because of their intoxicating fragrance and beauty, memories are imprinted and associated with the spring blooming of this amazing shrub. I set about writing a poem and inserted it into what images I happened to have. She didn't like the images and said the poem still needed work. As lilac season was many months away, I told her that I would go to Mackinac Island during the annual Lilac Festival. The poem remained a work in progress. Just before the bloom peaks, the unopened buds offer a color contrast. The timing of the photo shoot was perfect. Doing what photographers do, I selected a walking route of key iconic images and then tried to frame the shot with lilacs. This was done in both morning and afternoon light. Images of just lilacs were also taken. This is really what my customer wanted. The one seen here is the one she selected. I had to rewrite the poem because it wasn't short enough. Sometimes less is more. I had to agree.
Photo card with poem
The Last Today|
The poem was written on September 23, 2017. This happens to be a day that certain prophets were claiming catastrophic events would occur because of some celestial alignment of the stars. It was also a day that my wife Susan and I were at the top of Lake Michigan on a beautiful sand beach with eighty-five degree weather. We watched a beautiful sunset. Then we wrote this poem together. Today is all we have, and it never ends.
This poem was actually a description of waking up at dawn and hearing the first robin song of the day. It was July 25th on my daughter's birth day. People often read different meanings into this poem. It quite literally was about a recurring dream of another place. Whenever I had the dream, I would feel that I had returned to a familiar place, like a forgotten memory. The poem was written in 1985 (+/-). The image was finally captured this past October.
Both the poem and the photo were in 1979. I really cannot remember which came first, the poem or the photo. It was a special time and the inspiration was flowing. Other than our mothers, there are few opportunities for unconditional love. That special bond and love is a thing to behold.
The Only Boat|
For many years we heated with wood. One cold winter day, I went outside for an armload of firewood. As I bent over to gather the wood, this line came out of nowhere, "The only boat on a fresh water sea." It took a few days for the rest of the poem to come. It took over thirty years to match it with the right image. Living here in Northern Michigan, there are many opportunities to photograph boats in blue skies and water, but none ever seemed right. Finally, on a trip back from Mackinaw Island with family, there it was in the Straits of Mackinaw. Even the boat is blue.
The inspiration for this poem came while showing my brother-in-law what I believed to be one of the highest points in Emmet County. We drove out into the middle of this beautiful alfalfa field. In full view was a stunning panorama of the Mackinaw Bridge and Straits of Mackinaw. It was a beautiful July day and happened to be the birthday of my oldest son John, who had drowned in Little Traverse Bay the past October. While taking in the intensity of the moment, a single line popped into my head, "Land of the eagle's heart." The rest of the poem soon followed. I failed to get a photograph that day, but went back several times to get the shot. The light was never right. Finally, while flying with a friend over the Mackinaw Bridge, I got the shot that would fit the poem. Enjoy!
Month Poem -- December|
The winter solstice is a singular event in the year. For a moment, the planet pauses and turns back to the light. The grey of November has gone to black. The need to brighten and color the long night is universal and ancient. The poem and photo for this month proved to be the most elusive of all. December was the last of my efforts to complete a 43 year quest to document a year in Michigan with poetry and photography. There were many attempts over the years, but nothing ever seemed to work. It wasn't until the Pure Michigan Travel Blog wanted to publish all twelve months in celebration of Michigan's 178th birthday that it all came together. I was trying to make it about Christmas, but in reality, it's about the shortest day of the year. Once the poem came, I still needed a photo. Just in time, there it was on Main Street in Harbor Springs.
Month Poem -- November|
There is a certain bleakness about November when everything is exposed. The landscape is grey and dark clouds move fast across the sky. If there is a personality to this month, I see a fugitive in desperation, needing to survive. The words, "Hiding your nakedness in short dark days," came to me while in the hospital waiting for surgery. It was November 1977. I was alone and feared the surgery. The rest of the words came a little later on Thanksgiving.
Another side of November is revealed when friends and family gather in warmth to share food, drink and stories. It is a time to hunker down and brace for what is coming. A Norman Rockwell scene of a farm house at dusk, windows aglow with the last rays of light on the horizon was what I saw in my "mind's eye" for this poem. I never could get the right shot. Something else was needed. In the Great Lake's Region, November is well respected. There are many sunken ships as a result of her fury. The raw power and beauty of the elements is expressed in this photo taken on Little Traverse Bay in 2012. The poem and photo express different aspects of the same month.
Month Poem -- October|
October was the first month to so move me that I wrote a poem. More than the other months, it was one that seemed to evolve over the years. That first image, seen in 1972, seemed too elusive to capture in a photo. A poem was inspired, and then even that changed. In 1984, my wife Susan and our two small children were picking apples in an abandoned orchard, up in the hills west of Alanson. As always, I took photos. One picture was particularly striking. The fall colors had peaked, but in the center of the frame was a dead apple tree with no leaves. The contrast was striking. I had it developed and gave a copy to my neighbor. Later, on a visit, I asked him how he liked it. He said, "I like it, but so far, I've counted 17." "What are you talking about", I asked. Faces", he said. He then began to show me what he was talking about. There is a phenomenon called pareidolia where some people tend to see faces in objects or pictures. The famous "ink blot" or Rorscharch test was developed based on this tendency. After seeing what my neighbor was talking about, I wrote the poem on this card. But then, couldn't fit the poem with the photo. In 2012, I was again up in the hills, this time west of Brutus early in the morning. A heavy mist was starting to dissipate with the rising sun. In the valley below it started to drift in wide streaks just above the trees in their peak color. At last, I had the right image for the poem.
Month Poem -- September|
This month brings sweet memories of being newlyweds. It was 1978. As we left home for work, it was cold in the morning but sunny. By Afternoon, the sweaters came off, and the sleeves rolled up. School had just started and yellow buses were everywhere. I thought of the changes September brings, not just in the weather but in how we live. As with most of "The Month Poems," the words were inspired and came easily. Just not very often.
Because this poem is so rich in imagery, finding a photo to fit it seemed impossible. In 2011, I was driving on M-68, east of Onaway. There was a herd of horses grazing in an old apple orchard and the trees were ripe with fruit. Perfect! September is a harvest month for apples and the apple is symbolic of education. There is nothing in the photo that directly reflects the poem, but both reflect September. A special thanks to my wife Susan for showing me the connection.
Month Poem -- August|
August was difficult to express. Finding an image that was unique to August seemed impossible. It wasn't until 2015 on a family vacation on Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin that inspiration came. While taking photos of my five year old granddaughter, I saw an image that would work. Watching her dance joyfully on the beach, the first line came to me, Last chance for a summer dance. It wasn't until we were back in Michigan and she was off to the first day of school, that the rest of the poem came. The photo and the poem together, are uniquely August.
Month Poem -- July|
The apex of summer produces a tropical environment in the land of fresh water seas. It is a paradise unlike any other. A brief window of security nurtures new life. July holds special meaning, as three of my four children were born in this month. Together with the 4th of July and the birth of this nation, this makes for alot to celebrate. As George Gershwin wrote in his famous sonnet, Summertime and the living is easy. The words to this poem came slowly and not all at once. It is one of those months distinctly feminine, where nature nurtures and sustains us. The right photo also came slowly. In the summer of 2010, I looked out my office window and in the back yard, near the tree line, was a doe and two fawns. They had everything they needed.
Month Poem -- June|
Father's Day makes June one of the masculine months. The poem for this one came easily. It describes what Father's Day was like for me when the youngest of my children were small. It was 1984 and they were ages 3 and 5. We had gone for a walk in our woods with dog and cat in tow. My daughter had been picking buttercups and handed me her little bouquet. With such a sweet voice, she said, "Happy Father's Day." As I started to write about this, I thought of other impressions of June. Verse three describes the experience of June in Michigan. The title, "The Making of June" became a personal recipe. Although the poem came easily, it was rich in imagery and too much to capture in a single photo. It wasn't until 2010 than an opportunity came for a photo. It was June, and I had been picking buttercups for my real estate office. A client came in with a little girl and I asked them to pose for a photo.
Month Poem -- May|
May is clearly one of the feminine months. This is established in the first verse, "Perfumed and adorned, Mother Nature scents the breeze." In the second verse, she stages an annual rite of passage. The third verse brings images of humans reaching out to connect and linger in the celebration of spring. Like April, May only came toward the end of my 43 year quest to capture a year in Michigan. Also like April, her image was hidden in plain sight, just outside our front door.
Month Poem -- April|
April was a difficult month to write about. This one took longer than most. My goal of capturing each month of the year with both photography and poetry was challenged. Nothing was happening. I was looking for panoramic landscapes, not seeing what was at my feet, just outside our front door. The vivid, bright colors rising above last fall's dead leaves was the inspiration for this poem. Again, it was a photo that inspired the poem. After seeing it on a screen, the words came easily. April brings beauty, resurrection, and the promise of the eternal.
Month Poem -- March|
The first verse establishes March as masculine. The second verse is also masculine and reflects the presence of the spring equinox. Thermal currents this time of year bring a wide contrast in changing weather patterns, hence, "The lamb or lion" effect. In writing "The Month Poems," my goal of having both a photograph and a poem for each month, was a daunting task. Most often, a poem would come first and finding the right image could take many years. Sometimes, a photograph would inspire a poem, as was the case for March. This photo was taken on Riggsville Rd, just east of I-75 in 1979, but at the time was overlooked for a poem. Several attempts to capture March in poetry were made over the years, but none seemed appropriate. Finally, a revisit to some older photography produced this iconic image. It was then that the poem flowed.
Month Poem -- February|
Sometimes, a poem is either masculine or feminine; this one is feminine. It came easily in 2007, while taking a walk in sub-zero temperatures. The sun was out brightly, but a bitter cold wind drove away any warmth. The first line, "The bloodless heart of winter" popped into my head, and the rest soon followed. However, the poem presented a rather challenging word picture. A few years later, in Harbor Springs I saw what I was looking for. Conditions created a scene on Little Traverse Bay where "bold adventures" did indeed risk a dangerous caress." An arctic blast had flash frozen the bay. The ice was crystal clear, and where deep enough, ice boaters and skaters said it was like being suspended over a black abyss.
Month Poem -- January|
Inspiration is unpredictable. In the winter of 1977, while driving home from work on Riggsville Road, just east of I-75, I came upon a magic moment. Conditions were such that dozens of tiny whirl winds (snow devils) were dancing across the sharp edged snow drifts. The snow was light and flugy, and filled with ice crystals. The light refraction was dazzling. As these "whirl winds" flitted over the farm fields and roads, against a deep blue sky, I was so struck with the beauty that I couldn't quit thinking about it. Snow Dust was written the next day. It took another two years for the right photohgraph. This one was taken on M-119 north of Harbor Springs, under similar conditions.