"What We Want"

What we want.jpg

As a follow-up to the exceptional session— Photographing with Intention—that instructor Aline Smithson led this summer at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops,she shared an inspiring article from the New York Times. For "Being Women: Poetry and Imagery"the editors selected six poems by women and asked several women photographers to let the poems inspire them. The result was mesmerizing; the photos became poems of their own.  

Having spent a week with the talented photographers in the workshop, I thought it would be interesting to see how they would respond to the same kind of challenge. And how would I? Volunteering, I selected two poems that were rich in verbal imagery: Mary Olivier's "Long Afternoon at the Edge of Little Sister Pond"and Linda Pastan's "What We Want". 

 As a graduate student in French literature, I have done my fair share of translation and understad that word for word translations often miss the intended meaning and there isn't always an exact equivalent word in the other language. That's what you get with Google translations. More often there's a cultural or emotional shading that asks for thoughtful interpretation of meaning rather than a simple translation.

 Camera in hand, that's what I tried to do as I created images inspired by "What We Want". 

 What we want

is never simple.

We move among the things

we thought we wanted:

a face, a room, an open book

and these things bear our names--

now they want us.


But what we want appears

in dreams, wearing disguises.

We fall past,

holding out our arms

and in the morning

our arms ache.


We don't remember the dream,

but the dream remembers us.

It is there all day

as an animal is there

under the table,

as the stars are there

even in full sun. 

"What We Want," by Linda Pastan, from Carnival Evening. © W.W. Norton.