Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Blog Bits

This short piece begins what I have labeled Blog Bits—short letters to other writers and readers on what I find most interesting or confusing of entertaining about the creative life. I’ve called them bits because I’m pretty sure these random musings won’t turn out to be full-fledged essays. But they will be honest about my work, how I go about it, and how I view this publishing business.

As I launch my new website featuring the Mellingham books with Chief of Police Joe Silva and the short stories featuring Hindu-American sleuth Anita Ray I’m stuck with the unexpected topic of photography, not writing, for my opening letter. A couple of weeks ago I hung an exhibit of photographs in the art gallery at the Sawyer Free Library in Gloucester. The images are of Okanogan County in Washington State, a glorious land of high desert country, pine forests, and cold rippling streams that can turn into raging floods.

The photographs are meant to complement a series of poems by Jana Harris that tell the story of pioneer women in the late 19th century in the area before statehood. The poems sometimes brought me to tears in their descriptions of hardship and sudden death quietly accepted. Tomorrow night four women will read a selection of the poems and sing songs of the period, and enter into the experiences of women undaunted by any burden or challenge or disaster.

I took up photography in the late 1990s, just to enjoy for myself while traveling. But the images that I took seemed to have a strong narrative quality and, as a writer, I felt compelled to add to their understanding with a short text. Apparently one medium at a time isn’t enough for me. The first exhibit was entitled “Women at Work in South Asia,” and most of it appears on a separate page on this website. Take a look. Let me know what you think. And welcome to this new site.

Oh How Can I Keep On Singing by Jana Harris was first published in 1993 by the Ontario Review Press.

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