Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Introducing Billy Collins yesterday was really a way into his Introduction to Poetry. In this poem Collins asks his students to

“...take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide”

When reading these lines I thought of all the color slides of the world, stacked into boxes and drawers and cellars and attics. I imagined mankind’s complete collection of family albums, Himalayas of binders, one on top of the other. I pictured each person’s computer files, hard disks, DVDs. We click click to save moments, click click to freeze time, click click to extract the essence of what we see. Or want to see.

Collins’ call to take a poem and hold it up to the light like a color slide could be reversed. Take one of those color slides and hold it up to the light. Is there a poem here?

But what about all those moments when the camera is left in the bag? What about the moments when sunny skies and cheeeese smiles are sobs, clouds and drizzle?

Is every second of life camera-worthy? If not, why? Is there no beauty in the leftovers, the discarded, the moments I’d rather forget? And is beauty really the right word?


  1. I've spent the evening clearing out my desk, and rummaging through dozens of packages filled with photographs (the kind we used to have printed at the drugstore). I was dumbstruck by shuffling through all those moments in my own life that were captured forever in the click of the shutter...moments that meant something at the time and then seemed so easily forgotten. I had thought to toss them away, but just couldn't bring myself to do it. Each one suddenly seemed too important, and yes, too beautiful.

  2. Becca -

    What would life be if we hadn’t lived through THAT specific moment, if we hadn’t been present at THAT specific event. All these moments that together make up our lives. No wonder we can’t bring ourselves to toss away photographic “proofs” and memories!