I’ll be reading at the sema reading series next month, alongside John Myers ( Smudgy and Lossy, available from The Song Cave.)
Friday April 19th, 7 pm at Neckar Coffee in Boise
it’s refreshing to practice something you are not only not good at, but bad at. it’s refreshing, and it’s freeing, and it’s fun. i am not good at many fun things that i deeply love doing, including sometimes, the act of having fun. including also, instant photography.
I bought myself this camera before visiting my friend and her family in Australia in 2018. I wanted physical memories.
what happens is an item, person, or scene of interest makes itself known - then I take out the camera, a point and click instant camera with rectangular slats of film. the body of the camera is held awkwardly, in matte white. the aperture is slight and dim.
I try, cranking the dial knob to the recommended setting for the light, careful to avoid the mysterious HI-KEY setting. i adjust by some inches, press the button and the picture reveals itself, a frame slowly rising from beneath the black hedge.
I give it five minutes to develop. I give it five more minutes in the event it takes ten minutes to be at all impressive.
it’s inevitably the same as all the other photos: color sapped from the overpowering flash, details in the back or foreground hazy in an uninteresting way. viewed all together, the photos harmonize into a bland catalog of indistinguishable point and shoot photos.
I have since lost all of the photos from Australia, but I will describe some here: sunlight hitting a bright red chair in a half-abandoned office building, deities carved in white stone, flies aggressively lobbying for our toast, the graveyard by the sea, my friend’s son - sleepy with his ring of yellow hair, a multi-colored sculpture designed to catch wind off the south coast.
the other photos i hold again and again. i visit them, in their pleasant stack in my memory box. I rearrange them, tacked up at my office. particular photos of loved ones, i stash in places only i will think to look. in locale specific to me. it’s sentimental.
(perhaps my photos from Australia are in a stash so secret that not even I am allowed to know. I think they must be all the more enjoyable for their utlrasecret status.)
i hold the photos and some detail of the process swims up. the nudge of joy as I remember the annoyance of the condition they were taken in: of a spitty rain ruining the lens. or the sun overpowering my line of vision, as the camera strap tightens haphazardly around my wrist as I struggle simultaneously with my water bottle and backpack - impatient as ever, shunning any attempt at one-thing-at-a-time. a punishing wind knocking strands of loose hair into my face and eyes.
all this for bland and greyed out ocean, faded beach blankets set back from the shoreline. a single crack of sun shot over a rock, the blank pink of a late flowering bush, the recognizable curve of a stranger’s elbow.
the reward in a harmlessly greedy stash of what, in its mediocrity, could only be mine.
"The poet is not there only to share a poetic communication but to stimulate an imaginative speculation on the nature of reality."
it's possible that I'll be reading some poetry at this on Thursday, & it's even more possible that I'll be having a drink.
As I was clicking through old drafts & applications of mine, I found the poetic statement I wrote for my Ruth Lilly & Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship exactly one year ago.
Having to write statements are useful exercises. I could never hand you an "about-ness" for my writing, but a statement forces me to look at how I look, which magically always leads me to look with a newness.
It felt fitting to both share the statement, & finally launch my site, which has been a good six slow months in the making.
Please visit again & stay in contact: caroline.connor.poetry @ gmail
At the pith, language lusts peculiarly for the real, & would sooner draw blood than be ironized into oblivion. That I am female should not matter, though it seems to.
These are my materials, which others might have hemmed from me: Hunger (i.e. desire,) the thirsting Californian aquifer, female fluids, the sex & noise of our bodies together, homelessness, death.
Overhead, bus wires clip the city sky back. A bouquet of flowers comes wrapped in cellophane, then paper, & then a rubber band. We watch the neon of parrots race across the Embarcadero, their squabbling drowned by the bass of a Rihanna song from a passing car.
These are my materials.
Occasionally I regret that I have little time for nostalgia. But I’ve willingly witnessed every Kardashian spin-off, Trump-era press conference, & know the potential double-speak of emoji usage.
Like Keats’ grecian urn ecstasy, or Coleridge’s alpenglow trembling, ingesting is experiencing. Though now, the ancient & holy devices of sincerity & enthusiasm feel threatening as a knife. Still the satellite of my open face receives & filters, in stupefied awe of the landscape where I’m located. It could be eco-poetry, but it isn’t. The raw & specific terror of pop culture weds the I absent of distinction from you, & strikes out into an open neo-romantic field.
The small event-ness of each poem should find the blade not only an actual blade, but the boundary where its actuality meets mythos. Here, the blade is a tool used to protect, to (pro)create, to slice open the belly of something mammalian & warm, so that we too may know feast.
Written for 2017 Ruth Lily Fellowship application
San Francisco Botanical Garden Library, April 30th, 2017 11: 11 AM