Monday, August 31, 2009

Monday Poetry Stretch - Picture Day

Okay, follow the bouncing ball (remember those sing-alongs?) and you'll get to this week's challenge with me. I just need to take a minute to explain the inspiration for this one, and it's not a straight line. Or is it?

This weekend Gail Gauthier wrote a short bit about author photos and linked to an article in The Guardian about an author and journalist who withdrew from a literary festival when the town Council refused to print her picture because it "went against its responsibility to encourage "good health habits." The picture in question showed the author smoking. Huh.

I started thinking about this and the angst some folks feel about having their picture taken. I was surprised that this notion hit home yesterday morning when my son refused to have his picture taken over breakfast. He'd spent several days during the week with his Aunt Lauri and I wanted to take a picture of them together. He was having none of it. *Sigh*

Later in the day my son and I were organizing his room, he having cleaned up most of it on Saturday. While putting assorted items in stackable bins (this was actually fun for me!), we were listening to an old Justin Roberts CD and the song Picture Day came on. As we sang and danced around I realized what we needed to write about this week.

So, if you've followed along this far, you know I'm thinking about being photographed. Laura Purdie Salas, one of the regulars here, has a wonderful poem about picture day in her book Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School.

Now that you've had a bit of inspiration, will you play along? Write a poem about having your picture taken, or a picture of yourself that you love (or hate!), or about taking photos of others. Whatever your inspiration for piece, leave me a note about your poem and I'll post the results here later this week.


  1. Faces

    Kerri has 500 photos
    of herself on Facebook:
    pouting sexy like a model,
    then cute and funny, sitcom girl,
    very Kerri, never scary.

    I let her take photos:
    they're supposed to be me.
    A smile I practiced
    for Picture Day,
    dragon dabs of mascara,
    a dropped shoulder
    (Kerri says to, but I feel like
    the hunchback of Notre Dame).

    She doesn't get it. "Not one?
    This one! This one is perfect!"
    No. I go home.
    I take out my paints,
    my brushes, my scissors and paper,
    a bottle of glue. A feather
    I found on the sidewalk,
    a button, a twig.

    I take out the day I was born,
    smoothing it with my hands,
    the time I cut my knee
    and it bled on my green dress
    like geraniums,
    a quarrel tasting
    like unsweetened chocolate,
    the ruffled pages of books,
    my mother's daisy of a sneeze,
    the times tables lined up
    as if they made sense,
    my sister's baseball bat swinging
    through the air like a song,
    and my secretest secrets,
    like the heart of a stone or a tree.
    I'm making
    a picture of me,
    and it's going to be

    nothing like anything
    in that book of faces.
    It's going to be so me
    that if wizards came,
    they'd take one look at it,
    and know my true name.

    --Kate Coombs

  2. Wow, Kate--that's better than anything I have come up with.

    [Picks up photo, slumps off towards home.]


  3. Oh my. That's gorgeous. These lines are my favorite:

    the time I cut my knee
    and it bled on my green dress
    like geraniums,
    a quarrel tasting
    like unsweetened chocolate,
    the ruffled pages of books,
    my mother's daisy of a sneeze,

    You rocked it.

  4. Thanks! I was already having a good day (new book out), but you guys really made it!

  5. Good job, Kate! You set the bar mighty high!

    Some of you may be interested in seeing a few of the old photos I've collected over the years. I wrote about my collecting in a recent post.

    As for me, I have a problem with having my picture taken:


    Having my picture
    taken over and over
    and each time
    expecting to see
    someone else.

  6. Diane, I really like that. I'm the opposite, though. I keep feeling like the picture ISN'T me, and I just want to see me.

    Here's my effort for this week:

    Author Mug Shot

    one hundred twenty five pixels square
    double chin, cowlick, frozen stare
    they told me this pose would make me look stunning
    now black pixel bars restrain me from running

    my crime: an unphotogenic cliche
    my punishment: infinite awkward display

    --Laura Purdie Salas, all rights reserved

  7. P.S. Love your title, Diane.

  8. my punishment: infinite awkward display

    Fabulous line, Laura!


  9. Laura, my author mug shot wants to hang out with your author mug shot--that's exactly right!

  10. Thanks, Diane and Kate. Boy, I wish being a rarely-photographed recluse created a stir today like it did in yesteryear. That would be so much easier!

  11. Hi Tricia, After reading the fantastic poems everyone has come up with so far, I was very intimidated, but I decided to swallow my pride and play anyway.

    Picture Day

    Last year I stayed home
    sick on picture day—
    I wasn’t even faking,
    my stomach ached
    thinking about my face
    forever fat
    on the yearbook page.

    I had a plan
    nothing but salads
    I’d be skinny-jean ready
    by re-take day—
    It didn’t happen.

    So I promised myself
    a new me
    in the new year.

    But tomorrow
    is picture day
    and already
    my stomach

  12. Love the way the narrator comes full circle in this, Linda. And this stark line:

    It didn’t happen.


  13. Okay, I am working my way through some of your old challenges, looking for one to post for Poetry Friday and this one captured my attention.

    the shutter snaps
    I am still beautiful
    hair, long and blond
    draped around my shoulders
    just like it did in high school
    when boys wrapped their fingers in its strands
    and pulled me close between classes
    making promises
    they would never keep
    skin, peaches and cream
    Noxzema fresh
    a single chin
    eyes lit from within
    with a confidence
    I rarely share


    thirty tries
    I do not know this
    with my face
    I do not like her
    rosacea induced
    freckle her cheeks
    two chins, now
    eyes filled with fear
    of what the world
    might see
    might say
    might judge
    but the hair,
    the hair is still
    long and blonde
    and my husband twists his fingers in its strands
    and pulls me close
    whispering promises
    he always keeps

    Have I always been this shallow?

    but what woman doesn't want
    to feel beautiful
    for all time?

    ---Susan Taylor Brown
    all rights reserved

  14. This comment has been removed by the author.