Book Review: Poetry Meets Photography

Book Review: Poetry Meets Photography

Thumbnail image by Thought Catalog from Pixabay

By Kathy A. Megyeri 

On the fall equinox of 2021, Emily Kendrick’s book, “Nature’s Beauty: Small Noticings of Nature,” was published.  It’s a stunning little paper back featuring scenes of nature mostly from Massachusetts and gathered in 2021 during the pandemic. The photographs that depict the four seasons are accompanied by her reflective short-forms of the poetry of haikus (three lines with 5, 7, 5 syllables, originally from Japan) and tankas (5 lines of poetry, first and third lines have 5 syllables and the others have 7, making 31 syllables in all and giving a complete picture of an event or mood; the final two lines allow more room for reflection and interpretation.) 

Image from Amazon

About the author and photographer

Not surprisingly, Emily grew up in a family that loved photography. They had a darkroom in their home and her mother was a trained photographer. Emily herself took black and white photography classes in high school and college and taught it at a community center in Detroit. Everyone in her family still takes photographs. In fact, her son took photography courses in high school using her old Nikon camera. 

While Emily loves photographing nature scenes, her son prefers profiling people and street scenes. Emily now uses her iPhone camera and enjoys the ease and convenience of this equipment. When she moved from Maryland to Massachusetts, her son encouraged her to continue her photography career as a way to meet people and pursue it as more than just a hobby.

Emily also took a writing class as she loves poetry, and while reading her fellow students’ works, she learned about Haikus and wrote more of her own impressions in that form. One colleague suggested she use more “high fat words” to convey quick visual imagery. When she took more nature photos during hikes and local walks hear her home, she matched them to her haikus. 

Her favorite haiku accompanying a serene photo of colorful leaves and the one most readers enjoy is: 

Glamorous sister
Bolts into full costume first
Leafing me behind.

It’s a delightful play on words with “leafing” as some of the forest trees have turned orange but some are still green evoking what happens in a home where the oldest girl heading out for a date wears all the best clothes gleaned from the other sisters. This piece brought laughter from readers, and her classmates made further suggestions as they read aloud their own works and gave one another feedback. 

But it was easier to write, take photos and complete the lay-out than to market the product after getting it published.  Her husband helped her by including an announcement of “Nature’s Beauty” in their annual Christmas letter so many purchased it on Amazon for gifts since it was $10 a copy. Then, too, wherever Emily went, she carried her purse in the shape of a camera so friends and bystanders would inquire about it, and she could share with them a copy of “Nature’s Beauty,” another way to market and display her creation. 

Such scenes of nature accompanied by reflective short poems of her reactions to the photographs gathered in “Nature’s Beauty” has taught Emily a great deal about herself.  She knew that she was a creative person since going to art school and taking calligraphy, drawing, and pottery classes while at Wellesley and at the Glen Echo art center near Washington, D.C.

This entire experience of publishing her book offered Emily an outlet for her creativity that she could easily share with others since it appealed to a wide audience who appreciates both poetry and photography. Since this project energized her “artistic juices,” she plans a sequel with less pictures of flowers, based on reader feedback, and more nature scenes from different areas of the country once the pandemic subsides. She will continue to accompany her photography with haikus as they are brief, succinct and visual. Eventually, she plans to hold online classes to share her knowledge and techniques because others could combine their own artwork with simple, but insightful haikus and create their own little lasting and beautiful volumes. 

One reader wrote her, “This is a beautiful little book for you brought the tenderness and beauty of nature to our fingertips.” What an endorsement and encouragement for Emily to continue her winning combination of poetry and photography.