Exercise 2.3 – Image and text – Poem (P.60)

Choose a poem that resonates with you then interpret it through photographs. Don’t attempt to describe the poem but instead give a sense of the feeling of the poem and the essence it exudes.

I was initially quite daunted by this exercise as my knowledge of poetry is very limited and I also find that I naturally tend to interpret concepts in literal rather than metaphorical terms. Despite this I started looking for a poem that resonated with me. Looking at various poetry sites there are lots of poems about loss, longing and death, however, I wanted to find a poem that was positive and uplifting and so the poem I have chosen is Still I Rise by Maya Angelou.

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.
 Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
’Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.
 Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.
 Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
 Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
’Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own backyard.
 You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.
 Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?
 Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
  Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

I think this is a very powerful poem and I’ve listed below the ideas that came into my mind whilst reading it were:

  • Strength
  • Resilience
  • Unapologetic
  • Victorious
  • Pride
  • Ownership

Having identified the themes the poem brings to mind the challenge now is to create images that convey them metaphorically. Below are images of the first three themes and although I am pleased with the approach, I recognise that the first two images, strength and resilience, will need to be re-shot. Consequently this is an exercise I will return to to update and add images as I work through the themes.





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