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Professor John Casteen shares some thoughts on the link between his own creative process and that of a very different kind of artist:
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Writers generally thrive on ephemeral connections that are intuitively correct for them individually, but many of those connections– mine included– prove a bit difficult to explain to others.  Maybe they’re too sophisticated, or maybe they’re too interior; maybe one person’s need to have things make sense is greater than another’s.  But it was a great pleasure for me to discover several years ago that a photographer whose work I’d loved for a long time– Sam Abell, a former staff photographer for National Geographic– explains his work in ways that match up perfectly with a number of craft aspects of teaching poetry.
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In this video interview from the web site of The Atlantic, photographer Ross McDermott interviews Abell about the process of making one of his best known NG photographs.  Abell’s method– look, then compose, then wait– is a perfect visual analogy for the kind of thinking that underlies many processes of composing poems.  The connection has to do with subject matter– of a poem or an image– and then the corresponding mood, technical details, timing, and so on.  It’s also a great reassurance to know that an artist working at the highest level can take more than a year to produce an image he believes is worthy of the effort– reassuring, I mean, because so many of us who write poems are used to long, long intervals between conception and completion.
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On a personal level, I also love Abell and this interview for his candor, openness, humor, and humility.  These are great traits for writers– and for anyone.  Enjoy.
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