Today is Art Spiegelman's birthday, the man who made me think about what a comic book could be, what a novel could be. This was back in 1986, back when we didn't call them graphic novels yet, when Spiegelman published Maus and changed the world. I've written in more detail about Spiegelman and his approach and its implications for modern narrative here.
Today I'm thinking about poems and new ways we could marry poems to images to make something new and fascinating. Many thanks to Diane Lockward, who in this post introduces us to Nance Van Winckel and her work in fusing poetry and photography. Van Winckel talks about taking pictures of walls and being drawn to walls that had graffiti on them: "Over the past seven years, I've been experimenting with digitally adding my own little textual responses to the walls I liked. A wall speaks to me."
Her work with the photos has led her to compress her poems: "For instance, does someone viewing a certain piece in a gallery really want to stand in front of it and read a 100-word poem within it? A question I often pose to students: what does the text you're putting on that shoe (as an example) have to do with its shoe-ness? (I put a link to a video of some of my students' work on my website too.)."
She still works in traditional poetry, by which I mean words on the page. When I look at her work which she labels pho-toems, I think of Blake, and other poets who have also been graphic designers. I think of Blake and his work where it's almost impossible to separate the poem from the visual design that surrounds it and weaves through it (I'm particularly thinking of Songs of Innocence and of Experience).
I've experimented with video poems (here and here), but I quickly realized that a video poem should have images that move. I've continued to experiment with Microsoft MovieMaker, but I can't figure out how to get sound out of the video part so that I can have the sound of someone reading the poem.
Van Winckel makes me think in new ways. Could I write such compressed poems? Could I use the photographs that I take? Could I learn to collage in Photoshop?
I've been having such fun with photography that I want to do more with it. You may have been noticing more photos in my blogging. Maybe I'll start using more photography in my poems.