“Illuminated,” photograph by Lara Katz, 14. Published April 2018.
A note from William Rubel
It is so easy to take a glance and then just turn the page.
Photography was invented in the 1840s. Photographers have been recognized as great artists since the beginning of the art form. But it has only been in recent decades that exhibits of photography at museums have drawn crowds that match those of exhibitions of paintings. In newspapers and magazines we become accustomed to seeing photographs as documentary tools. The photograph shows us the subject that is discussed in the article. We glance, our internal voice registers, “Ah, that is what it looked like,” and we then usually focus on the accompanying text.
Stone Soup is a literary magazine. The photographs that are included in Stone Soup do not illustrate the stories (though they can partner with them, and add another dimension). They stand as works of art in their own right.
Photographs are not composed of words. Words slow us down. It takes a while to read a page. But we can read a photograph in an instant, literally. How many words would it take to describe your house? And then how long would it take to read the description? But it only takes a short glance at a photograph of your house to recognize it.
I hope all of you read Editor Emma Wood’s thought-provoking note on reading poetry in the April 6 Newsletter. If you didn’t, then read it now. I promise you, you will find something there that you will remember for a long time. I’d like to borrow one paragraph from Emma’s note:
The poet Wallace Stevens once said, ‘A poem must resist the intelligence almost successfully.’ What does this mean to you? To me, this means that a poem should operate just on the edges of reason and rational thinking. It should tell me something that I don’t quite understand. The poem should force me to spend time with it, to read and reread it, and, with each rereading, to come closer to my own understanding of it.
Lara’s Katz’s photograph, which we published last year, forces you to stay with it. You cannot understand it in a glance. As Emma puts it regarding understanding poetry, it “operate[s] just on the edges of reason and rational thinking.” What is happening to the right of the column? What do we see on the left? And what is the column part of? Is this a doorway? A gate? An arch along a walkway or in a grand building? Is that graffiti or a projection? Is that a face at the top of the column? Eyes in the wall to the right? There is a lot in Lara’s photograph that we “don’t quite understand.” This is a photograph you can come back to for years.
Where does this photograph take you? I’ll leave it at that. Once you are done, send us what you’ve written to Stone Soup.
Until next week,
Highlights from the past week online
Don’t miss the latest content from our Book Reviewers and Young Bloggers at Stonesoup.com.
In a review written together, Ben and Jackson discuss Angie Thomas’s modern classic The Hate U Give. Read their review to find out why they think the book offers a ‘unique perspective’ of main character Starr being ‘split between two worlds.’ Have you read this book or watched the movie? Let us know what you think!
Soohong reviews Coraline by Neil Gaiman (which is another book that got turned into a movie!). ‘Coraline was a very amusing and super enjoyable novel. Though it scared me so much and sometimes gave me nightmares, this would definitely be a book I would recommend to people.’ Read more of Soohong’s thoughts here.
From Stone Soup
By Julia Lockwood, 12
Photograph by Lara Kaz, 14
The pewter sky hung like a tapestry over the graveyard, dark clouds spilling across it. The clouds boomed and thundered like an angry beast, releasing torrents of water that drenched the gray headstones below. Lightning sliced through the air like a sword, illuminating the world for a second with its violet light.
Libby liked the rain. The way it left her honey hair wet and clingy, the way the droplets slid down her cheeks like cool tears. She knelt down next to her favorite grave in the furthest corner of the cemetery.
Most of her neighbors grew up in fear of the cemetery across the street, but Libby loved it. Each weekend she would place flowers on her favorite graves, and she loved calculating the ages of the people on the headstones.
Libby peered at the grave in front of her. The cool stone of the memorial was cracked and crumbling, with moss climbing up it, filling in the crevasses. A smiling angel stood atop the base of the grave, holding a harp in its chubby hands. The angel’s face had been worn away by decades in the rain, giving the grave an eerie look. Engraved in the podium was the name of the girl who rested there.
Here lies Ada Lee Clemmons
Beloved daughter, sister.
May her soul rest in peace.
“Pretty, isn’t it?” a sweet voice said from behind Libby. Startled, Libby turned quickly to see a girl standing behind her. The girl looked about Libby’s age, with tawny skin and soft coils of chestnut hair. Her cheeks held a slight rosy blush, probably a result of the cold of the rain. But what struck Libby as particularly striking were the girl’s eyes. They blazed blue against her darker skin, as if holding a cold fire inside them.
The girl took a step closer to Libby.
“It’s sad isn’t it?” She asked. “She was so young. Only eleven, only as old as I am now.” The girl turned to look at Libby, as if noticing her for the first time.
“You come here a lot,” she said. It was not phrased as a question, but simply as a statement.
“Y-yes.” Libby stammered. Something about the girl made her uncomfortable. It seemed as if the air grew cooler simply having her around. “How did you know?” . . . / more
Stone Soup’s advisors: Abby Austin, Mike Axelrod, Annabelle Baird, Jem Burch, Evelyn Chen, Juliet Fraser, Zoe Hall, Montanna Harling, Alicia & Joe Havilland, Lara Katz, Rebecca Kilroy, Christine Leishman, Julie Minnis, Jessica Opolko, Tara Prakash, Denise Prata, Logan Roberts, Emily Tarco, Rebecca Ramos Velasquez, Susan Wilky.