Voxpop #4: “Poetry from Pictures”

Presented by M. Solav

Hintology
10 min readJul 18, 2023

Voxpops are experiments in which abstract photographers of the Hintology community either have their work engaged with specific audiences or come to discuss particular topics related to their practice.

This voxpop article has been separated into two sections. To read the part about pictures written from poetry, please click here.

“Abstract photography and creative writing — and especially poetry — share this language that is deeply based in a shared, grounded reality. As opposed to painting and other forms of “generative art” which essentially start from a blank canvas and allow the artist to explore an infinitude of possibilities, these artforms seem more constrained: a “random” photograph still depicts light as we might see it, a “random” sequence of words still contains references to a concrete world.

It takes a concerted effort — of deconstruction, of letting go of safe and familiar notions — to achieve results that speak at a more abstract level. Given this shared language, the idea that a photograph can inspire a piece of text and vice versa seems rather intuitive.

This is why we have decided to explore this relationship by inviting 20 artists to compose texts and capture images on the basis of one another’s work. The images and texts were attributed at random, with the possibility of choosing between four pieces. We hope you will enjoy those results as we enjoyed producing them!”

M. Solav

Photographs that served as inspiration for the poems in this article in the presented order.

TABLE OF CONTENT

[ 01 ] Apollo Spencer / @apollothescribe
[ 02 ] Jack Thompson / @jackwritess
[ 03 ] Tim Gentle / @atimosabeart
[ 04 ]

/ @pauljonathanrowland
[ 05 ] Anni Rannisto / @reveries.of.atlantis
[ 06 ] Keon Wong / @keon_wong
[ 07 ] / @m.solav
[ 08 ] Cassie Fielding / @rhombus_head_twinned
[ 09 ] Arnab / @living.self
[ 10 ] Hector / @poet_hector_59

[ 01 ] Apollo Spencer — @apollothescribe

THE WITNESS AT THE WATER’S EDGE

The current rushes like it has someplace to be.
Me? I have lived my legend.
This is the last place I will lie,
Here, in these restless depths.
Having fallen from improbable pedestals,
wrapped in vines made of man’s grandest delusions.

I am made of something like stone,
or slate, granite.
My corners carved smooth by the tide;
It can change me, but it cannot move me from this place.
The weight of my past keeps me anchored here;
a relic of man’s kingdom of once was.

I do not remember all the places I have been,
for the river is some kind of thief,
she pushes my memories out of my stony grasp
and washes them downstream,
where she knows I am too weary to chase.

What I remember I would sooner forget;
recollections of the scorched earth
where the lush green grew over the bones
of the last generation,
the forever-children.
And as nature took back her earth,
the water came in streams and floods,
to wash away what was left,
all but I.

Poem above inspired by this photograph from @susansancombphoto.

[ 02 ] Jack Thompson — @jackwritess

AMONGST CEDAR

To drink upon this feeling of doubt
Is to walk barefooted
on snow banks
amongst cedar

But who are the willing?
The ones to strip the bark of thought
The ones to delve beneath heart
The ones to touch frostbite’s lips

I would never know

Each crack of crunch, to ignore hunch
Would I just be another lost flake from sky?
My name sunk beneath tree root?

I would never know

Poem above inspired by this photograph from @newfotoromantic.

[ 03 ] Tim Gentle — @atimosabeart

JWST

Fired from ancient cannons galore
Leagues of phantom photons
Lighteen years old do rut
And swirl ‘round the Colosseum’s bowl
Revelling in infinite obscurity

Chill, admirer
Whilst they cajole truer glee
A lumenous cryptography
Whispers spells ethereal
Spilt, at last, from the Holy Braille

Poem above inspired by this photograph from @jayburtonphotography.

[ 04 ] — @pauljonathanrowland

CROSSED WIRES

Nothing is as it seems: my hair
is waving inside my head, neurons
blowing in the breeze, my veins
are river deltas and my nerves
winter trees on a distant hilltop.

There’s more than meets the eye:
a crowd of photons clamouring
to shake tiny hands with my rods
and cones, to let my brain know
they are here from outer space.

I fling my arms up in despair
only to realise I’m dancing — or
waving for your attention — which
amounts to much the same thing.
Come and save me when you can.

Poem above inspired by this photograph from @amyaikenphotos.

CASCADE

Light grits its teeth in the piazza
where a sailor points to a peacock
crossing the path of bride and groom
(no-one’s paying attention) — someone
looks on from the wings, and a hooded
figure turns their back on them forever.

Before this / at the same time / later,
two soldiers stride into battle, dressed
in the Middle Ages, one with a wing
on her shoulder. Young people embrace
as a crowd douses them in water —
they were trying to watch the bullfight.

Meanwhile… a priest prepares for Mass,
detectives skulk in the shadows,
a mother begs with child in arms,
a boy hurries past with a package —
and in the midst of it all: your destiny
stands in a greatcoat waiting.

Poem above inspired by this photograph from @m.solav.

[ 05 ] Anni Rannisto — @reveries.of.atlantis

AT THE LAKE

Bulrush labyrinths, insects
in their open cathedral
know no rest.

I have been here before,
arrived in the time
of the dawn,

an impossible light, casted
from the opposite shore,
stirring stones underwater,

been here in the darkest
of hours,
unbearable silver

settling over exhausted dreams,
the air statue-still,
a crane forgetting its wings —

All these infinities tethered loosely —

Tonight I’ll wade into the water,
waist-deep,
reach out for the floating moon.

Poem above inspired by this photograph from @nothlngbutlove.

[ 06 ] Keon Wong — @keon_wong

SPRING #2

The clouds stumble in waves,
Leaving behind the smell of incense.

The swallows are still
Lost in their pilgrimage.

The water trembles beneath
A baritone of wind and rain.

The oaks sink into a silent prayer
As their shadows diminish across hills.

The ground falls to weary sleep
As the newborn starlings sing

Another prelude to twilight
In palpitation.

Poem above inspired by this photograph from @kellyschulze_photography.

[ 07 ] — @m.solav

UNBEKNOWNST

It is as if I were

Truly, marching, numb,
Blind despite standing
On a pillar above the sun,
Bathing in an ocean of
Clarity, clean, dumb
A kind of understanding
Or a stellar love, a unison
Dripping in slow-motion.

It is as if I were

Well fastened to a past
Faint, absent, steady,
Found elsewhere once more,
Begrudgingly opaque,
As sequestered and cast
Paint spent uneasily
Around canvases ashore,
Erosionally awake.

It is as if I were

On the verge now,
Ready to step onward,
Dare, envision, try,
If but for a moment
In an urge somehow
Unravel the skies afar
Care, abandon, fly,
And not ever lament:

It is as if I were.

Poem above inspired by this photograph from @atimosabeart.

SHADOW OF A DOUBT

It happens with all the holes and wounds: they grow their own face, mend their gap, heal their rifts — those new skills of yours are but entities that emerge: to give shelter, to stand guard, replace the old, thicken the crust, weather this human storm — through and through.

But will the skin ever return to its soil? It linger on forevermore. How tight is its grip? How hardened its sappy brooks? When will it nourish those delicate roots anew?

These thoughts arise as doubt breaks free. It pours and flows as I gaze down and lower still. Shadows seep and leak as the wheel spins and drills the soul evermore hollow. Anonymous is our tree of life, but it keeps faces in store.

For it happens with all the holes and wounds: they bleed, they mend, they heal — and what don’t they do as I stand here, as I bend, as I kneel — as I carve their seats in shapes of departure. These skills thicken under my feet like growling tremors.

My past was but a dream — ready to slide and crumble like a leaf. My weariness is universal. My knowledge, heavy. There cannot be a conclusion. I am growing thin.

Let me feed those roots anew.

Text above inspired by this photograph from @digprod4.

[ 08 ] Cassie Fielding — @rhombus_head_twinned

SANCTIFIED MELLOW

Punctuated delirious by tedium,
the fray of the mouth-well
persists in its insistence — shape-shift

is gospel
as the reflection that waves
the shallows of infinitude

Atomic, the ambit
rolling in the grasp of an open
palm’s aperture—

dried up and hollow-set to shatter
a festoon fragmented
a scatter of skin-shod apparition

Ionic, this body
in the depths of undisturbed
disturbed —

alloyed both ways brimfully,
buoyancy submerged
and spillage in coaxial amniotica—

Poem above inspired by this photograph from @celia_strainge.

[ 09 ] Arnab — @living.self

GLOW OF HOPE

A glow of hope as the dusk sets in.
The purple and red of your heart beating
A thread of memory of the future past.
Under the sky of a midnight dream.

What’s night, for a wailing mind
To see all dark in the sky.
One moon and a hundred stars.
What it seeks, that it finds.

Poem above inspired by this photograph from @jk_tone.

[ 10 ] Hector — @poet_hector_59

LEPIDOPTERA

A club and nothing to grasp the skin, ghosts made ghostly,
the backs of heads, flat as daggers,
a thin wedding of negligent colors
Lepidoptera, an order of flight, dark music transfiguring the market -
the braless heat slipping from one
burning shoulder

Poem above inspired by this photograph from @keon_wong.

Closing word:

“We hope this experiment inspired you with the endless possibilities that a creative use of our semantic and visible world allow — and if you are yourself an artist, that it made you want to try incorporating words and thoughts along your pictures, or vice versa — picture along your words.”

M. Solav

Thanks to the photographers for providing their pictures:

@susansancombphoto, @newfotoromantic, @jayburtonphotography, @amyaikenphotos, @m.solav, @nothlngbutlove, @kellyschulze_photography, @atimosabeart, @digprod4, @celia_strainge, @jk_tone and @keon_wong.

And to all the participants:

[ 01 ] Apollo Spencer / @apollothescribe
[ 02 ] Jack Thompson / @jackwritess
[ 03 ] Tim Gentle / @atimosabeart
[ 04 ]

/ @pauljonathanrowland
[ 05 ] Anni Rannisto / @reveries.of.atlantis
[ 06 ] Keon Wong / @keon_wong
[ 07 ] / @m.solav
[ 08 ] Cassie Fielding / @rhombus_head_twinned
[ 09 ] Arnab / @living.self
[ 10 ] Hector / @poet_hector_59

Voxpop conducted and edited by M. Solav.

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…about Hintology

Hintology is an abstract photography magazine project created in August 2020 which strives to create a community where every artists are given a chance to broadcast their voice, the aspiring just as much as the established. We are a small team of volunteers who rely on the passion and contributions of their community to help spread the beauty and diversity of abstract photography. If you share our vision of inclusiveness and inquisitiveness, you can make a difference by tagging your work with #Hintology on Instagram, or by following our page and joining our group on Facebook. If you appreciate our curative work and the interviews we conduct, please do consider donating via this link; all funds will go towards printing the first physical edition of the magazine.

Visit Hintology.org for all the links.

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Hintology

New digital magazine that seeks to portray the abstract photography scene and the human-beings behind the pictures in all their depth and diversity.