Woodsmoke & Perfume is written from the point of view of a traveller who stops just long enough to capture a moment of time; the moments we often overlook in our busy lives; the moments of life, living and loving not easily shared and too often forgotten. Let me share these personal moments in time, captured in words, images and illustration, with you.
Visual Perception versus Cognitive Perception
I’ve always been fascinated by the marriage of vision and cognition especially when it involves photography and creative writing. I feel that the two forms of art, realized through visual perception and cognitive perception, do not conflict but rather compliment. You can read Michael Ondaatje’s novel The English Patient and still watch the film (where photography becomes cinematography) and get two very different and yet complimentary insights into the artist’s mind.
After all the film is the screen writer or director’s interpretation of the story. Their interpretation could be as valid as our own reading of the novel. I have never understood the logic of those who say, “I don’t want to see the film because it will ruin the book.” Or “poetry should not include images because they will mislead the reader.”
So my born again book of poetry includes images. Often the photographs were shot at the moment that inspired the poem so I wanted the reader to experience the same scenes as if the reader was travelling with me. Since a photograph has such a narrow field of view, however, it can’t tell the whole story. I felt that, even though the poems should stand on their own and portray (not describe) the thoughts and feelings the situation evoked, the images could give the spark that would ignite the reader’s understanding of the poem.
For poems that don’t have photographs I asked Larry Nadolsky, a graphic comic book illustrator, to fill in the missing images via illustrations and in one case I even merged an illustration with the photograph to come up with my mind’s eye image. The result was a cognitive rendition of what I saw in my mind as best captured with film and brush.
Then there are poems printed without images. For some of them I had the right images but for the sake of being practical I did not want to overwhelm the words with images. Too many would have the opposite effect. So I choose the images that best enhanced or highlighted the story.
In my poems, white space is the other tool I use to evoke visual stimulation, or in other words, to tell the story. In this case placing the words on the page in an arrangement that represents pauses in thought processes the same way that holding your breath or gasping portrays your thought processes to others. Commas and periods do the same thing but white space does it in a purely visual form.
An editor told me that using non-standard sentence structures make reading more difficult. I would say try it and see. Don’t write to me, however, to say that you found a typo or grammar mistake. All what I have written is intentional and is done so to serve a purpose. The purpose, of course, is to change your perspective and introduce fresh perceptions. If you first don’t understand it then read it again.
Reading should be tough, especially if the motive is to evoke thought or conversation, otherwise the reader will breeze through it like eating an ice-cream cone and then wonder if that was worth the calories.
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