Wednesday, April 11, 2012


Robinson Jeffers' iconic Tor House needs a new roof and the Tor House Foundation would like our help raising the funds. If you follow the link in the previous sentence you'll learn how you can help and see my photo of the Tor House at the top of their page.

Ginger Mayerson spotted my photo in a blog posting here at These Rivers, Footsteps of the Masters, and asked permission to use it. I was honored to grant permission, and pleased to see myself credited for the photo and described as "poet and photographer."

It's been years--no, decades--since I've thought of myself as a photographer but there was a time photography was my art. I majored in Studio Art at Arizona State University (and geography, but that's another story, sort of) and came to love everything about cameras and how they helped me see the world.

Minor White described it this way, "...innocence of eye has a quality of its own. It means to see as a child sees, with freshness and acknowledgment of the wonder; it also means to see as an adult sees who has gone full circle and once again sees as a child - with freshness and an even deeper sense of wonder."

ASU had especially good photographers on its faculty but there is one to whom I'll be forever grateful for helping me discover that poetry was, in fact, my art. That photographer was Jack Stuler.

I'd been writing since I was a boy and, because it came naturally, I didn't appreciate that it was an art that required the same amount of discipline and intention as arts newer to me, like photography, did.

Things changed---after many semesters spent walking Tempe, Arizona's desert edges with a 4x5 view camera on my shoulder---when I came inside to create in the studio, aka my studio apartment, and started constructing scenes to be photographed. It started with objects I'd found during those desert walks and brought home. A seed pod. Cactus thorn. An abandoned doll's eye.

Then came the words. And more words. And then to showing my latest efforts to Jack in his office one afternoon, and Jack's observation, over his unlit pipe that, maybe, I was writing poetry.

Jack offered me several (actually, many) hours of independent study credit during the last semester of my senior year to explore poetry. I was tasked to read it, write it, every day, and drop in during office hours once a week to chat with him about whatever was on our creative minds. It was simple and informal.

You see, Jack was a working artist. He taught, and led, by example. He treated his students as working artists, too. We rose to his expectations. And I became a working poet.