Saturday, May 30, 2009

How to Write a Poem

(published in the school's literary magazine, "Temper", as proof that poetry and photography are one and the same...)

How to Write a Poem

step one: the camera
you’re going to need one
some people can do without
but you’re no Mozart, dear
and those of us who aren’t child prodigies
had best conform
admit we’re human
and accept what we need while we still need it.

step two: shoot
placement is everything
once you realize where you’re going
the journey is half the journey
and the other half is getting lost
decide your subject
and look at it for a long, long time
know what it is before you define it.

step three: the negative
click click click rewind
roll the film carefully (use the silver reels, not the rusty ones)
in the pitch black
when you process timing is everything
as it hangs to dry take a deep breath
the negative is not your final result,
but leave it alone for a while.

step four: the darkroom
again, placement timing placement
wait for the amber light so you don’t ruin anything
use the right filter
expose to bulb accordingly
be patient while you wait for it to develop
if you rush it too much it won’t fix properly
and the second you take it into the light it will disappear

step five: tweak
one you have the overall gist of the photograph correct
it’s time to nitpick
decide what should be darker
what could do with more light
use your tools carefully and only on smaller areas
though no matter how carefully you burn or dodge
they’re different every time

step six: frame
no, no, no, you are not finished
maybe it looks lovely to you
maybe there is perfect texture, contrast, tone,
but (don’t groan) there is still more
now for presentation
maybe you’re “contemporary”, all strange angles
but there is nothing wrong with ninety degrees

step seven: breathe
if it is better than good enough
if it is sharp and clear
if it tells a story
(if it tells your story)
if you poured your soul into it, if it’s all your own
take a deep breath and admire
be satisfied.