Today, we are checking back in with Inner Excavation contributor Darlene Kreutzer. I am deeply inspired by the way Darlene pairs her photography with her poetry, and I am thrilled that she is sharing about the ways her photography, poetry, and writing intersect today. Be sure to spend some time with Darlene's photo + poem in Chapter 2 as I believe reading about "the landscape of home" will invite you to dig deeper into this chapter theme.
Welcome Darlene to our Inner Excavate-along! Sink into her wisdom today...
This past November, I learned something new about the way my photography, poetry and writing not only influence each other but also work together. I participated in Nanowrimo, write a novel of 50,000 words in a month. My deepest longing has always been to write fiction books but it has always felt so daunting and to be honest, I didn't actually believe that I could do it.
I am learning that I like and need structure in order to thrive as a creative person. I also need unstructured time of play with my camera, with long written out bits in my journal next to pasted in photographs and bits of ephemera. I prepared for November by organizing and cleaning my house which included a strange obsession with separating my hundreds and hundreds of books by genre and author.
When I sat down in November to write, I did so with a clean organized space but without an outline or even a thought out idea. I gathered up photographs that spoke to me of an emotion, a feeling, a mixture of colours, scenes and I stuck them up with washi tape above my computer and they guided me into a poem which became the spine of an outline that drove the words to the page. And I did it, I wrote just over 50,000 words of a coherent (fairly coherent) first draft of a fiction novel. I am currently in the process of ripping it apart and editing it even as I am gathering ideas for a new first draft of a new novel.
Why am I telling you this? Well because I want to share with you that last Autumn I went on a little road trip to the most southern part of my province. I am from the forested north whereas my husband is from the south filled with desert and prairie and farmland as far as the eye can see. It reminded me of my grandfather's ranch, my childhood, the stories of my grandparents. There is something about the ghost towns and abandoned farms that hits me deep in my heart causing tears to prick the corners of my eyes. I can feel the longing for something that I can't quite define, I can hear the windsong of beauty and hardship sitting squarely in the deepest parts of me.
I took a good forty polaroid photographs but there was one in particular that struck a chord with me. I couldn't get it out of my mind. You could say that it haunted me and when I sat down with it, the words poured out of me.
(polaroid sx-70 / impossible px 70 FF film)
"Here is where the longing sits, in neglected windows cracked and wood bulged and swollen
you to come along and rub sandpaper caresses
and brush colour blushes across my skin
and you would
of nervous expectation, swollen bellies and that first cry into the wind.
She would stare out past the carefully watered apple trees, the endless sky that melted into the golden rays of wheat fields
where her children would plan and dance and bleed out into the earth.
and she would long for something else, something rocky and hilly, jagged edges to contain
her wild desires
And she found it in his smooth talking
voice of soft fingers
and he dipped into her jagged edges and drove her mad with
longing as she packed up her suitcase, that one housedress with the tear sewn over too many times
and she ran into the wild night
skimming on heels saved for weddings and funerals.
Her voice lost to the bright lights
his hands bloody
dipped into someone else
and a bottle of whiskey scorched her dreams.
and here is where the longing sits, in neglected windows cracked and wood bulged and swollen
the laughter of children
long since gone, apple trees brushed with death
brittle and parched
and you would
of whisky eyes hunched over a slot machine, eyes nervous expectation
swollen sullen and that first cry into the wind."
The photograph prompted me to the expression of poetry and the poem is a story waiting for me to write.
And I am incredibly grateful for all the ways of my creative expression and all the ways they tangle together, a solid mass of roots that bloom up and tangle up in each other. And I am here excavating the stories from my heart, the stories of myself and my ancestors, the past and the present. I am learning to pay attention to the places, spaces that dig at my emotions and that it is important for me to document those places so I can further excavate those emotions because that is where the longing sits and that is where I find myself digging deeper into my creative writing.
Darlene Kreutzer lives in northern Alberta, Canada. She is grateful for family, the light that casts beauty across shadows, music that lifts emotions, words that spill out, a little cottage of a house surrounded by a ever changing garden filled with colour and love, friends and inspirations, the beauty of nature, the ocean’s cold spray, the soft barnacle skin of the grey whale and the possibilities that exist in life. You can connect with her at www.hippyurbangirl.com.
Update: The Inner Excavate-along was a free read-along on my blog in the summer of 2012. All the posts are here on the blog, but I'm not directing a group through it with newsletters etc. at this time. I hope you enjoy following along! Find out more about my book, Inner Excavation: Explore Your Self Through Photography, Poetry and Mixed Media, here.