In the past we listened to photographs. They heard our voice speak.
Alive, active. What had been distance was memory. Dusk came,
Pushed us forward, emptying the laboratory each night undisturbed by
In the city of X, they lived together. Always morose, her lips
soothed him. The piano was arranged in the old manner, light entered the
window, street lamps at the single tree.
Emotion evoked by a single light on a subject is not transferable to
photographs of the improved city. The camera, once
commented freely amid rivering and lost gutters of treeless parks or avenue.
The old camera refused to penetrate the unknown. Its heart was soft,
Now distributed is photography of new government building. We are
forbidden to observe despair silent in old photographs.
Barbara Guest, “Photographs” from Miniatures and Other Poems. Copyright © 2003 by Barbara Guest. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.
Found photograph via Internet K-Hole
One of the most successful–and the most popular–exercises in our Poetry & Photography class involves the use of found photographs. Using randomly discovered images as a prompt, students are asked to write poems that somehow elucidate the origins of the photos. Where was this photo taken? Why? What was the context? And how do such images become lost?
I give the students a variety of websites to browse for “found” images, but by far the most popular is a blog/tumblr called Internet K-Hole. I’m still not entirely sure who curates this site or how they manage to come into possession of so many truly amazing, bizarre, hilarious, and occasional tragic photos, but every time I look at the site I can’t help but lose a huge chunk of my day. Prepare to fall down the rabbit hole…