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The green, green grass of home

Friday, 20 October, 2017 0 Comments

Home

“The old house is still standing tho’ the paint is cracked and dry
And there’s that old oak tree that I used to play on
Down the lane I walk with my sweet Mary
Hair of gold and lips like cherries
It’s good to touch the green, green grass of home.”


A minor Martin Parr moment

Wednesday, 27 September, 2017 0 Comments

The great British photographer Martin Parr is famed for intimate images that often take a sardonic look at life. His seaside images are particularly revealing in their depiction of the different social strata at play. This non-Parr photo is a tribute to the master.

A Parr moment


Never closer the whole rest of our lives

Tuesday, 5 September, 2017 0 Comments

When poets remember their mothers, they portray the complexities of a relationship in which the mother is both intimately known and yet oddly mysterious. In Seamus Heaney’s sequence Clearances, written in memory of his mother, he includes a sonnet about the beautiful ordinary moments that happened while he and his mother peeled potatoes in the kitchen. The silences are broken by “pleasant splashes” of water as the potatoes drop into a bucket.

But the next sounds we hear are of sobbing and of murmured prayers: “some were responding and some crying”. As his mother dies, Heaney recalls the peeling of those potatoes “when all the others were away at Mass” and “our fluent dipping knives — Never closer the whole rest of our lives.” The beauty of that moment is heartbreaking.

In memoriam M.K.H., 1911 – 1984

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives —
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

Picking the potatoes


Joel Meyerowitz: It’s what you put in the frame

Thursday, 31 August, 2017 0 Comments

The great American photographer, Joel Meyerowitz, once said: “I think about photographs as being full, or empty. You picture something in a frame and it’s got lots of accounting going on in it — stones and buildings and trees and air — but that’s not what fills up a frame. You fill up the frame with feelings, energy, discovery, and risk, and leave room enough for someone else to get in there.”

There’s plenty of room for us to get into to this typical Meyerowitz photo titled “Storm Over Corn Hill Beach”. By the way Corn Hill Beach is located in Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Cape Cod storm

Here, Joel Meyerowitz explains his photography philosophy. It’s about your camera and, especially, it’s about what you put in the frame, he says.


Memorials outlast memories

Monday, 28 August, 2017 0 Comments

In Robert Goddard’s mathematical thriller, Out of the Sun, the hero, Harry Barnett, visits Kensal Green Cemetery and muses upon the erasure that death accomplishes: “The broken pillars still stood, the hollow helmets still echoed. But the thousands of names — and thousands of people they had once been — vanished sooner or later, beneath the lichen of utter forgetfulness. The memorials outlasted the memories. They alone remained, in this petrified forest of ceremonied mortality.”

Graveyard


The Wild Atlantic Way of Max Malloy

Saturday, 5 August, 2017 0 Comments

“I am Ireland-based photographer with a background in arts, who came to Ireland 13 years back, had a crush on Irish landscapes and haven’t left ever since.” So say Max Malloy, who was born in Latvia and spent his childhood beside the Baltic. He moved to Ireland 13 years ago “to be closer to the ocean and to the never ending green fields.” A constant theme in his work is what is called the Wild Atlantic Way: “i enjoy every frame that highlights the beauty of the ocean, the grandness of the cliffs.”

Max Malloy cliffs

Max Malloy landscape

Max Malloy Atlantic


The face is a picture of the mind

Saturday, 17 June, 2017 0 Comments

“People felt themselves watching him even before they knew that there was anything different about him. His eyes made a person think that he heard things that no one else had ever heard, that he knew things no one had ever guessed before. He did not seem quite human.” — Carson McCullers, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

Big face


Diving can be a leap of faith

Saturday, 13 May, 2017 0 Comments

“Do not think to swim below. The ocean is already pushing into ears, sinuses, temples, the softness of eyes, and the harpsichord strings behind the kneecaps.” — J.M. Ledgard

No Diving


The echo of well water

Thursday, 4 May, 2017 0 Comments

The Irish poet Thomas Kinsella was born in Dublin on this day in 1928. He was championed by the critics in the early 1960s, but it was the dying Kavanagh and the upcoming Heaney who became the poets of the people, ordinary and elite. Popular success evaded Kinsella and although he’s central to the Irish canon he has remained on the margins of the verse market all his life.

Talking of margins, the ancient Irish monks and scribes who filled the marginalia of their manuscripts with illuminations and glosses, offer a comparison with Kinsella. One can always discover some new scribbled clue in the texts that the medievalists annotated and it’s the same with Thomas Kinsella’s poems. There’s much more there than meets the eye. Rereading has its rewards.

Echo

He cleared the thorns
from the broken gate,
and held her hand
through the heart of the wood
to the holy well.

They revealed their names
and told their tales
as they said that they would
on that distant day
when their love began.

And hand in hand
they turned to leave.
When she stopped and whispered
a final secret
down to the water.

Thomas Kinsella

Saint Sedna's Well


May Day in Vietnam: 2012

Monday, 1 May, 2017 0 Comments

May Day or International Worker’s Day is celebrated on 1 May throughout totalitarian Vietnam and because it is directly preceded by Reunification Day on 30 April people tend to take a double-day off. In some years, when both these holidays fall on a weekend, offices can be closed for as long as four consecutive days.

Vietnam on May Da

Vietnam on May Day

Vietnam on May Day

Vietnam on May Day


Tree, stone, earth and sky

Saturday, 15 April, 2017 0 Comments

“The tree was so old, and stood there so alone, that his childish heart had been filled with compassion; if no one else on the farm gave it a thought, he would at least do his best to, even though he suspected that his child’s words and child’s deeds didn’t make much difference. It had stood there before he was born, and would be standing there after he was dead, but perhaps, even so, it was pleased that he stroked its bark every time he passed, and sometimes, when he was sure he wasn’t observed, even pressed his cheek against it.” — Karl Ove Knausgård, A Time for Everything

Trees