Journey In Nature by Mariellen Griffith
I ran across Mariellen Griffith's Journey In Nature this past week and was quite taken with it.
Journey is a slight volume (57 pages) of poetry accompanied by photographs that are described by the poems. For example, a garden of wildflowers celebrating an old picket fence is portrayed thusly:
Daisies along fence
Growing among other plants
Native plants growing
One's immediate impression is that the lines are rather terse and perhaps truncated, but readers set that impression aside as they learn that Griffith has followed a traditional Japanese style of poetry called haiku. Briefly, a haiku is usually three distinct, but integrated phrases (lines of verse), that rigorously follow a 5-7-5 syllable pattern: the first and third lines each contain 5 syllables; the second line has seven syllables. If you take the poem above apart you can see the traditional pattern.
Haiku originated in the middle of the 17th century and gained significant popularity in the West as a rejection of Victorian poetry, which modernists deemed verbose and cluttered. The poet Ezra Pound wrote many haiku, including In a Station of the Metro, which he specifically described as 'a shot across the bow' of poets such as the Victorians Matthew Arnold and Elizabeth Barrett Browning.
Griffith's experience as both poet and photographer is evident. She combines the two art forms seamlessly: each photograph is traditionally dressed by haiku; nature is witnessed by an observer no more intrusive than a shadow. Still, Griffith occasionally dips into modernism and places the human observer forefront:
Walk across the bridge
See the mill grinding corn
Purchasing flour bags
Nature is present in the poem (water flows under the bridge and we can see and smell the corn as it is ground into meal), but all the action involves human actors. The photograph, titled 'Water Driven Mill' is described by three rather sweet haiku that nevertheless describe the most mundane of human activities.
Griffith is a resident of Holiday Island and a member of the HI Art Guild, Photography Guild, and the HI Gardening Club. She is also a member of the Eureka Springs Historical Society and Gardening Club.
Journey In Nature is available at Amazon.com.