September 15th, 2005

Egrets Reading

Word Photos

Before she left town, I took Yvette down to retroactively take her senior photos. She was still wearing braces when the originals were taken, so I’d always planned to retake them when the braces came off. After her graduation day came, I decided I loved the way she looked in her graduation gown and decided to duplicate that look for her photos. So, this is how it came to be that Ray of Belle and Beau Photography, Yvette, and I were in a park doing a photo shoot of Yvette on the morning of the day she left town for UC Santa Cruz.

Still photos remind me of haiku in the sense that they capture a moment, a look, a sound, a scent. I think this is the key to writing good haiku. When I encounter newcomers on some of my haiku lists, they often start off writing little three line speeches instead of taking the more imagist approach that I think is necessary for a good haiku.

For example, if I were to write something about Yvette’s last day home before leaving for college, I could write:

busy morning
he takes photos of my daughter
before she leaves

This does describe the morning but it isn’t a photograph, a snapshot for my memory photo album, like this would be:

sun in her hair
my daughter’s smile
the day she leaves

This second one somehow recaptures the moment and I can see my daughter in my mind, wearing her white graduation dress, with the morning sun shining on the natural blond highlights in her hair, with a radiant smile on her face. As a poem for others, it may not make as much of a difference, but as a keepsake, as a memory saved, as a "word photograph" it works better for me.

There are many reasons to write a poem. Some we write to share, but some we simply write to treasure for ourselves.