Thursday, December 04, 2008

writing the photograph

After a long week I indulged myself last night and took an evening writing workshop at Aqua Books.

Amy Karlinsky
, arts writer extraordinaire, has been one of two Writers-in-Residence this fall at Aqua.

On one of her first visits to the store, she came across Aqua's binder of vintage photos.

As she tells it, she was flipping through, thinking to herself that these people could be her, and that maybe it was a sign, and maybe she should apply to be WIR, when all of a sudden, she comes across a picture of HER Baba.

So she applied and even though we already had a Writer-in-Residence, we decided we'd be fools not to make room for her.

Of course, her first workshop on writing artists' statements was oversubscribed and her second workshop on writing the photograph (what else?) was oversubscribed...and I wanted to take both.

But I couldn't take the first, because I didn't have childcare, and so when the second was confirmed, I put my name on the top of the list.

Because I work there and I can do that.

* * *

Arts Writer-in-Residence Series: Writing the Photograph
Amy Karlinsky, Aqua Books Arts W-i-R
October 2008 - January 2009

Do you have a family photograph that needs to be re-imagined? Is there a story that needs to be told? Or, do you have a picture of a stranger that somehow haunts you?

As a part of Amy Karlinsky's term as Aqua Books' Arts Writer-in-Residence, we are offering a workshop on writing the photo. Using examples in poetry and fiction, Karlinsky will demonstrate how to use literary writing to decode an image.

Come for the evening and be prepared to write your photograph.

* * *

I brought a picture of my dad as a young man to the class, the one I'd put in a cheap frame as a young woman and kept on a shelf in my first apartment.

The story goes, my father had an older male gay friend he used to hang out with as a young turk.

My dad borrowed the apartment, the pants, and, presumably, the pose for the photo...but let the friend know to keep his distance, or he'd "thump him."

Not particularly refined, but 19 or 20-year-old men usually aren't.

In any event, this picture has always filled me with a strange sort of swaggering pride. Look at my brute of a dad, the internal monologue goes. I come from THAT!

I chose this picture because I don't have that many family pictures at hand but also because part of me wanted to write my Dad in health as well as in sickness.

Over the course of the hour or so we were allotted for writing in the workshop, I filled about ten pages of my journal.

It was good to see that the other people in the workshop were as wrenched about by their own family theatre as I am. (The man in his forties admitting to being close to tears twice while writing, another woman having to stop altogether...)

And it was good to try on an exercize I'd found myself recommending to another writer only a day or so ago.

And it was good to spend an evening in the company of writers and artists while working away at all of this.



Cynthia said...

What do you mean you didn't have childcare?!?!? I never heard *my* phone ring.... sniff, sniff

You know I'm ALWAYS happy to have Aa come hang out. I mean, what's better than an evening of toddler carnage?!?!? I say that in the most affectionate way of course. F would always be thrilled....

Ariel Gordon said...

You're too kind...for some reason, it doesn't occur to me to call you.

Mmm. I know, because you work so hard and have so little me-time with your daughter as it is!