My guest blogger this week is Richard Pelletier. Richard first met me by reading one of my books, and he wrote some good things about “We, me, them and it”. Subsequently we corresponded and then he came on Dark Angels courses in Spain and Oxford. No big deal, you might think, except that Richard lives on the west coast of America so that’s quite a commitment. I’ve come to like him a lot and respect his work both as a writer and a photographer. In particular I think his Storygraph project is inspired, and that’s what he writes about below.
12x12x62 – The StorygraphProject
For years, I’d had a vision for a project. In my mind’s eye, I saw large, beautiful photographs (by multiple artists) hanging in a white, sunlit gallery. Each photograph was accompanied by a fine piece of writing. Art lovers would linger — reading and luxuriating in a sublime marriage of photograph and text. Beautiful dream.
It banged around inside my head forever. Then it hit me. My sunlit gallery was online. Instagram is home to thousands of fine photographers, pro and amateur. Many combine their work with the words of writers, poets and songwriters. It was all in front of me: the photographers, the gallery, scads of visitors. To activate the dream, some assembly would be required.
After many walks and talks with my wife Linda, it all finally snapped into place. Twelve photographers would post one image a month for one year. Each image would be joined to an original 62-word sestude. We’d make 144 Storygraphs — a word I coined to describe my own text + images work.
So I called it 12x12x62 – Stories and Pictures. We launched in March.
It’s been exciting and humbling. More than beautiful. It’s moving and evocative. For some, it’s been a profoundly life-altering experience. Someone who has wanted to write is now writing. A deeply creative and somewhat isolated artist has found a new mode of expression and a wildly enthusiastic community. We’re from Tel Aviv, London, Prague, Istanbul, Portland, Maine, LA, San Rafael, CA and Seattle.
The images work on you in a wholly different way than the words. But together, they’re little tone poems of loss and connection. Memory, life and time. I know how much I labor over each piece. And I’m not alone in that. I love how insistent and passionate people are about exactly how the words should fall on the page. There have been some technical challenges but we’ve overcome all.
Most of us fly at warp speed and the days slip past. Our storygraph project is a slow walk. Where we are reminded how beautiful and lovely it can be to stop and see and think. To make pictures and to write. To make shared stories.
“Do you know,” wrote John Berger, “the legend about cicadas? They say they are the souls of poets who cannot keep quiet because, when they were alive, they never wrote the poems they wanted to.”
We wanted to write our poems and we did.
To see the work, hop on over to our Tumblr site. Instagram is our launch pad, but Tumblr is our true home. Just go here: http://12x12x62.tumblr.com.
To learn more about the 12 artists, go here: http://12x12x62.tumblr.com/12-Artists
PS. To learn more about me, visit my blog, Five Cool Things.