The Blog Post in Which I Am Moved by Art and Poetry
I make my photos for me. To worry too much about whether others will approve is a waste of already-scarce time (I’m a middle-aged woman. As Brené Brown wrote, “Midlife is when the universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: I’m not screwing around.”).
But: Isn’t it delicious when someone sees something special in your creative work? Isn’t it just a soft gust of sweet invigorating air, pushing you up and out, nudging you softly to just. keep. going?
Our creative endeavours connect us. If we were all simply hermits making solitary art in caves somewhere to please our own souls, that would be poetic and all, but a tragedy, still. What a shame to miss out on the bonds of shared universal human truths that would inevitably arise from each of us in our separate hollows. What missed opportunities to offer perspectives and learn from one another.
Putting our creativity “out there” is an act of vulnerability and bravery not only because we concern ourselves with how we’re perceived, but because we run the risk of being rejected in response to our sometimes fragile and awkward efforts to reach out and touch somebody other than ourselves through our creative work.
This week, the second issue of the independent literary magazine, Humana Obscura, was released. It’s a beautifully designed 126-page publication featuring poetry, short prose, and art in various mediums.
Two of my photos were included in these pages, for which I’m grateful. Someone over there on the editing team felt these images were a good fit for this compilation of words and pictures that favours raw, sensory responses to our natural world. I’m so pleased to be among the contributors.
I thought I’d share my impressions of a few of my favourite submissions from this issue (it was hard to choose). I’m no literary critic, mind you. I didn’t go to art school. Trying to sound smart about art and literature usually just reveals that I’m...well… not that smart (about art, literature, or much else). I’ll try to put my feelings and responses into words and sentences that make sense to me. Hopefully they make sense to you, too.
You’re welcome to view the magazine in its entirety online (free) here. I’ve referenced the page numbers of the below works so you can easily find them (my photos won't do the work justice, so please check out the real thing).
Falling Stone by Camilla Taylor (page 58) is a mixed-media piece with just the right amount of texture and tension to appeal to me. Here, the serenity of a mass of horizontal lines is broken by one round-ish piece of the image that’s been turned askew so that the lines within run in a different direction - against the grain, so to speak. The irregularity brings the interest. To me, this piece brings forth ideas of balance, strength, and courage.
Celebrating the beauty of the ordinary, Common Reed and Cattails by Whitney River (page 89) is a graphite drawing of grass. There’s wonderful attention to detail in the texture and shading. At first glance, I wasn’t sure if I was looking at a black-and-white photograph or an illustration. I love the space this occupies on the page - the arcs of the leaves, the strength inherent in the slim stems. It reminds me of cursive writing; nature’s signature on the page. Isn’t it sad that most of us are too preoccupied to notice the wonder in the everyday?
Emerald Deep, an oil painting by Tic Ikram (page 79) is probably my favourite image in this issue. Spare, minimal. Beautifully blended tones. Angles softened by light and shadow, just the right amount of curve to balance the straight lines. It’s like being a dream where the sand dunes are aquamarine and you can’t tell whether you’re in the desert or on the bottom of the ocean. I love the peace this artwork evokes.
Haiku is a structured, simple form of poetry, but - like most minimalism - hard to do well. Every syllable has to work incredibly hard to pack a punch. The Three Haiku by Pippa Phillips (page 98) did so for me. They use strong metaphors and spare, sensory language. Beautiful. Nature is haiku’s muse, yes?
There’s simple grace in Suryatapa’s Rusted Sky (page 63) - a short and contemplative poem of love, loss and memory, a story reflected in the changing sky. According to the contributor bio, Suryatapa is a cell biologist as well as a writer. I love that. A scientist. An artist. And/both. No limits.
Rocks by Charlene Moskal (page 56) is a reflective piece of prose about a mother and son, beach treasures, transience, truth, and beauty. I have a mother. I am a mother. I cried when I read it.
Humana Obscura is also available in print.
To Bri Bruce and the editors: Thank you for spending the time and energy to initiate and pull together this collection and this community, especially since the last year has seen many of us turning to the natural world for solace.
To all the contributors: I salute you. Thank you for not being hermits and sharing your art with the world.
Just. Keep. Going.