Monday, April 13, 2009

I Look at a Photograph

Child on Porch

Taken by Eudora Welty in the mid 1930's when she was working as a photographer for the Works Projects Administration in her home state of Mississippi.

Eudora Welty would be 100 years old today and wrote the poem, I Look at a Photograph, but I have been unable to read it.... yet.*

She wrote most of her poems as a young girl, the first being published in St Nicholas, a children's magazine, in 1920, at age 11. This one appears to be available in a current children's magazine, Cicada, a Cricket magazine group, the March/April 2005 issue.

While Welty is better known for her prose and photography, she did write a number of poems; and I would like to peruse a few. If you (or your library) has access to Cicada, I would appreciate receiving a photocopy of the poem.

But first, click over to my Xanga page and read my review of the acclaimed musical fable, The Shoe Bird, a delightful symphonic story, based on Welty's novella of the same title, published in 1964. I've listened to it several times over the weekend.

In the meantime, I will leave you with a short paragraph about photography from her memoir, One Writer's Beginnings.

The camera was a hand-held auxiliary of wanting-to-know.

It had more than information and accuracy to teach me. I learned in the doing how ready I had to be. Life doesnt hold still. A good snapshot stopped a moment from running away. Photography taught me that to be able to capture transience, by being ready to click the shutter at the crucial moment, was the greatest need I had. Making pictures of people in all sorts of situations, I earned that every feeling waits upon its gesture; and I had to be prepared to recognize this moment when I saw it.

These were things a story writer needed to know. And I felt the need to hold transient life in words -- there's so much more of life that only words can convey --strongly enough to last me as long as I lived.

In your family, who is the photographer, who is the story writer/teller?

Who writes poetry?

*Much later I received a copy of this poem from the library reference desk.  In fact, it is NOT written by Miss Welty, but someone who was inspired by viewing her photograph.


  1. Dana, Eudora Welty is one of my favorite writers--I love One Writer's Beginnings. She writes about what she knows much like Annie Dillard, another favorite of mine. Thanks for reminding me of her.

  2. In late March, I stumbled on Smithsonian's feature on Welty's photographs, which led me to seek out some other links I had "stashed" here and there when I wrote about her for work a couple of years ago. This entry may interest you: