gathering wool while on the road


Summer in Colorado means road-tripping and camping… and in my car, with a busted CD player and no iTrip to speak of (or listen to) that also means a lot of NPR…

On my way home from a wedding weekend of camping underneath the moon and stars and looming Teton Range in Jackson, Wyoming, with a pretty amazing, intelligent, and fun group of friends, my blissed-out state was interrupted by the intensity and wisdom of Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan. The All Things Considered interview/reading began with Ryan reading Home to Roost.


The chickens
are circling and
blotting out the
day. The sun is
bright, but the
chickens are in
the way. Yes,
the sky is dark
with chickens,
dense with them.
They turn and
then they turn
again. These
are the chickens
you let loose
one at a time
and small —
various breeds.
Now they have
come home
to roost—all
the same kind
at the same speed.

I was reminded of the poem when I saw the above image, a photograph by Nicolas Wollnik, on J Colberg’s blog Conscientious which always provides worthy musings on fine art photography among other things. Despite the almost instantaneous link in my mind between the image and the poem, I have reservations about posting the two together, primarily because of the way Ryan works, very slowly. While I often like the pairings of poems and photographs, it’s weighty work to be sure that each is commensurate with the other. I wonder if that’s why photographer Alec Soth often left blog readers with just a poem on Fridays and no photo; although, Jen Bekman has made a few fine matches on her site, Personism.

I was struck by Ryan’s way of working and writing poetry which is similar to the way I work as a photographer. She called it “wool gathering” and remarked that it takes hundreds of pounds of wool for an ounce of good language; it’s inefficient and takes lots of time. But the resulting works are charged, simple, and not overly elaborated.


One Response to “gathering wool while on the road”

  1. 1 Marrone

    What a pleasant surprise…
    -Pleased to have read: your writing-
    (Jealous of your roadtrip)
    Later in the week I saw an article about this book:
    Spiral Jetta: A Road Trip Through the Land Art of the American West by Erin Hogan, thought you might like it though not Black and White.

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