Saturday, February 15, 2014

Portrait of a Poet

Courtesy of Ileana Garcia-Spitz, December 2012

This week, I had the pleasure of attending a different sort of arts event. I went to a photography exhibit's opening lecture titled Portrait of a Poet. It's up at South Texas College's Technology campus library from now until May 9th, so if you have a chance, please do go and take a look. It's a beautiful collection of photographs that depict snapshots that chronicle the local poetry scene.

Anyway, this event was a little bit special for me. For one, I've been a member of this poetry community, have grown with it and met a number of close friends through my experiences over the past, oh, five or so years. And naturally, the woman behind the camera and I have become great friends, so seeing her there at the lecture in all her photographer glory was amazing.

So anyway, in her talk, Ileana more or less told the story as to how this series of candid photographs came about. She's always at the poetry readings, carefully recording them so that she can tell the story through pictures, what we do with words. As a poet, I LOVE seeing the photographs Ileana takes of each event -- it's almost a way to relive the event as she posts them on Facebook, usually just a few days later. Ileana joked that, after she posted her first set of photographs on Facebook of a poetry event years ago, that it was the first time she realized just how appreciated her photography was. And yes, we as poets DO love to see these artistic depictions of ourselves. I'll usually obsessively check facebook after an event waiting for Ileana's latest photo album :-P

I think what she's doing is significant, though, beyond just our own artistic vanity. Her work gives the poets an identity, visibility, a face. She said that her photographs span from 2010 to 2013, and that in these short years, our poetry scene continues to grow and change. And  grow it has!

I'm incredibly grateful to Ileana for her hard work and her contribution to our local "scene." I even came out in one of the pictures (above!). I remember that particular night vividly, and I think Ileana did a great job of capturing our sentiment. See, it was that same night as the Sandy Hook massacre, and instead of cancelling our poetry reading, we decided to get together anyway and read poems of healing.

Art is a community endeavor. It's shaped by the community it grows out of, and in turn, it enriches that community and its people. As a poet, I'm incredibly fortunate to be a part of this local group of poets that continually inspire me. I'm glad Ileana was able to capture that sentiment, that togetherness, in images. Her talent is amazing.

Anyway, rumor has it that there MIGHT be a coffee table book of photographs from Ileana's work on the local poetry scene in the works from VAO publishing. I sure hope so!

In other news, Katie the Poet has a lot of stuff going on, as per usual at this time of the year. Be on the lookout for announcements involving FESTIBA, a performance in the Vagina Monologues ::gasp:: and of course, the 2014 installment of the Valley International Poetry Festival.

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