In conversation with Lena Khalaf Tuffaha
a nostalgia-scented chemical whisper / silvering up the atmosphere
knowing that the mask is more an image
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world.
Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Hasn’t there been a moment you never wanted to leave?
When I began to write my first book, Where I Stay, I was trying to erase the memory of certain photographs that had followed me my whole life. I think everyone has objects like that — letters from lost friends, dried flowers, old keychains — these objects stay in some box at the back of a dusty drawer. After years of struggling with the form of the book, I decided to just paste these photographs into the novel. But putting photographs with text is problematic — it disrupts the suspension of disbelief that is critical to any viewing experience. I came to an uneasy peace with this disruption — and learned to work with the space between the photographs and the sentences. This was important to me, a type of absence. I couldn’t have articulated that back then: I was just a kid. I had never been to Paris. Rodenbach, I would have thought, a type of malt liquor; Levy-Dhurmer, a jeans store at the mall. But, now, even after I’ve long retired Where I …
Dear Readers, We’re pleased to report that the Spring-Summer special issue is now available– The Photography Issue— our biggest and best yet. It features poetry by Sierra Nelson, Troy Jollimore, Ellen Bass, Olena Kalytiak Davis, Francis McCue, Andrew Zawacki, and Nicky Beer, photography by Doug Keyes, Nance Van Winckel, Dianne Kornberg, and a special feature on the work of Mary Randlett, including rare photos of the last days of Theodore Roethke. There’s also a special section, Film Roll: An Expose in 24 Frames, curated with contributing editor Andrew Zawacki, featuring a film roll’s worth of short takes on the intersections of poetry & photography, including pieces by C.D. Wright, Sharon Olds, John Yau, Paisley Rekdal, Joshua Edwards, Martha Ronk, Susan Wheeler, and many others. Throughout the issue, we examine and re-envision the intersections of poetry and photography, from the origins of the photograph to the state of the image in the digital age. Now’s the time to subscribe to ensure this special reaches you. And watch for more po-photographic inquiry in this space all summer long…
Over the course of the next few weeks, as the Winter/Spring 2010-11 issue of Poetry Northwest (v5.n2) is made ready, we’ll be featuring a series of poems by Ed Skoog written in response to photographs by J. Robert Lennon. When asked bout the process of composing these poems, Ed writes that “the question on my side, once I’d agreed to the collaboration, was what form the poems would take in response to John’s photographs. He’d already taken them; I’d already admired them. The photographs were taken around Ithaca, New York, and I recognized only a few of the locations from my visits there. Here in Seattle the March through June I worked on the sequence, it was gloomy and what little light came through the leafing apple tree was lonely. These poems started spinning out from the memory of the photos rather than from direct looking. I worked on them a long time, puzzling them out, puzzling into them, and in the end took them much more seriously than I’d set out to, in order …
A blindfolded rhinoceros / is being lifted / out of the water.