Thursday, September 17, 2009

Young. Old. Blink of an Eye.

[Though I posted this on Thursday, I'm going to keep it up for Poetry Friday - people can take a look at the poets included. Poetry Friday Round-Up link is at the bottom!]

A former student at Vermont College of Fine Arts sent me a poem she found posted on The Writers Almanac today (thank you, Lynda!) called Getting to Sleep in New Jersey The poet is John Stone, and the poem's subject is William Carlos Williams, whose birthday it is today. It got me thinking about a photograph I saw of WCW taken when he was a young man. The photo startled me. We have images of famous people set in our minds - the "William Carlos Williams" I knew (but didn't know, of course) was the man in the hat - the famous photograph, which must appear on many of the jacket covers of his books. But from the photos, I can see the boy in the man. You have to wonder (or I do, at least) when you see photos like this, about what these great people learned between Point A and Point Z - what's in those iconic heads and hearts that wasn't there yet when they were 13, 19, 25? What did life teach them? You see it in their art, but do you see it in their eyes?

So I thought I'd just pair up some Young/Old photos and let them speak for themselves.




(3 photos: Age 13, Mid-Life, Older - and she apparently loved feathers in hats her entire life....)




VIRGINIA WOOLF (wasn't she ever happy?)

TONI MORRISON (born Chloe Wofford)



Poetry Friday this week is being hosted by Becky over at Becky's Book Review. Thanks!


  1. Hi Julie,
    I love looking at these faces, at their eyes and expressions, at smooth skin turning into hardy wrinkles, and wonder too, about all that they've seen, felt and experienced.
    This month, I've signed up for a portrait drawing class for research for my WIP... I'm sure I'll learn much more than how to draw a pretty face. Cheers!

  2. These are all fascinating, Julie. You're right about Virginia Woolf -- she has that same dour expression! It was great seeing WCW and Picasso too.

  3. I loved that. Thanks. I was struck by the loving open eyes of both Whitman and Ginzberg -- some kinship in their warm embrace.

  4. I think Virginia Woolf chose to look pensive in both photos. Interesting that she chose her style early and stuck to it. Of course, her life was shorter than some of the others.

  5. Frances, I envy you that portrait class. I just can't summon the courage to get out there and DRAW.

    Tess, I love the Ginsberg and Whitman, too - I have postcards of each of those and have kept themat hand, on my desk, for many years. The two men look both kind and vulnerable, don't they? Right now I'm noticing how much the older Hemingway looks almost like a photo negative....that's nice, when you see something new each time.

    Rachael and Jama - yes - the Virginia Woolf is a very studied look, isn't it? So thought out. Imagine knowing that young that you wanted a certain "look" that would last you for a lifetime. I barely remember who I was in my youth!

    Rachael, just let me say how much I enjoyed the poetry you have posted over at papersky - in particular I love Beach Photo, Black and White.

  6. Many thanks to Brian James, who alerted me to the fact that my photo of a young Ezra Pound was actually the artist Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. I've found another photo to take its place!