In Witch of Kodakery, author Carole Glauber presents the amazing life and photography of Oregonian Myra Albert Wiggins. The word “Witch” was part of Kodak ads, alluding to photography’s magic and charm, and certainly Wiggins beguiled her national audience. Her contribution spiraled beyond the camera, to that of artist, writer, and poet. She was a fearless, ambitious pioneer who believed that photography seeks “. . . to reveal to others . . . glimpses of this world with ‘God’s great pictures hung’” (53). What a lovely image: framing nature’s light and shadow so that people pause to look.
Some days I take a walk solely to snap photos of the spaces between branches, colors that zing, and odd-angles shapes. What I also bring with me is a mind humming with snatches of songs and lines of poetry that flow out as soon as I claim a subject for my iPhone.
Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my Arrows of desire
Ring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.
— William Blake
The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil . . .
— Gerard Manley Hopkins
How warm a wind blew here about the ways!
And shadows on the hillside lay to slumber
During the long sun-sweetened summer-days.
— Trumbull Stickney
Light takes the Tree, but who can tell us how?
— Theodore Roethke
Deep-hearted, pure, with scented dew still wet—
One perfect rose.
— Dorothy Parker
My walks in the neighborhood (iPhone in hand) are not the adventures of an indomitable Myra Albert Wiggins, but more my curiosity with a final product. As I continue to read Witch of Kodakery, I see another dimension, very different from my need for closure. A photo, in the hands of the artist, possesses resilience. In the Foreword to Witch, Terry Toedtemeier writes that “. . . the plasticity of camera representation has been put to the fascinating task of recording, on the one hand, what the eye sees, and on the other, simulating what the mind envisions” (IX).
These words encourage me to seek out light and shadow, to focus, and to let verses spill out. What a discovery to realize that the technical image declares what I see and the poetic symbols invite me beyond.