During the period of Covid lockdown, Lynne Buchanan was caretaking family members impacted by the pandemic, while also navigating the unique challenges of an aging mother in and out of a care facility. Buchanan found comfort and a sense of grounding in daily walks along the mountain ridge and in nearby natural areas.
In the ensnarled tree branches and root systems, as well as in the leaves, grasses, and rock formations anchored in the Earth, she witnessed aspects of nature that hung on through illness and physical harm, which gave her the strength to keep going. She photographed the interconnected web of life she immersed herself in and the images and poems she created became the book The Poetry of Being.
The photographs are black and white and her poems, in the haiku tradition, are interspersed throughout the book. Two poems by poet James Lenfestey are also included.
In her essay for the book, Buchanan shares more about her internal processing and its alignment with the resulting visual imagery. She writes,
“As I age, I find I am more interested in expressing my emotional response to the fragility and perseverance of nature, versus an idealized version of the environment. My images include traces of what was, things still hanging on, the effects of climate change and human impact, and the cycle of life, which includes decline and death, while also celebrating the commonplace, since all of life is precious. I am drawn to burls, scars, and other physical disconformities that evoke a history of experiences.”
Photographer and professor Pradip Malde contributed an essay for the book in which he elucidates Buchanan’s approach to seeing and honoring the sensory and emotion-provoking elements of the landscape.
“The experience of looking, as in The Poetry of Being, is compelling. It holds our attention so that we may contemplate and stay with silence, solitude, mortality, and chaos, all of which would otherwise leave us feeling fragile, vulnerable, and hopeless. To be attracted here is to take a step towards hope,” Pradip observes.
Buchanan did not have to travel to distant places to find and document layered beauty; she walked out her door and took notice of the world at her feet. She allowed her perspective to be shaped and informed by what she was navigating in her caretaking world and by pandemic imposed constraints. Her vision was emotionally charged by the deep processing this chapter in her life necessitated.
She states in her essay: ”Photographing ordinary things in my immediate environment taught me compassion for all living things, especially those that have been harmed or are different, as well as how to celebrate every stage of being, including the transition to nonexistence.”
In addition to making photographs on a mountain ridge near her home, she also photographed areas she could drive to in Tennessee, Georgia, Kentucky, and North Carolina. The act of photographing helped keep her balanced during a period of profound isolation.
“Lynne Buchanan’s photographs and writing enfold us in a state of attraction, a necessary dynamic, so that we may look at faces more ancient and more persistent than ourselves. The photographs help us grow, become wakeful, and discover our bodily selves in terms of the timeless. ” — Pradip Malde
Lynne Buchanan is an award-winning photographer who has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions in museums and galleries across the United States, as well as in Athens, Greece. She was recently honored and recognized in both the 19th Julia Margaret Cameron and Pollux Awards for this body of work.
Pradip Malde is a photographer, Guggenheim Fellow, and Samuel R. Williamson Distinguished University Chair and Professor of Art at the University of the South, Sewanee, Tennessee.
James Lenfestey is a recipient of several Page One awards for excellence, and has published two collections of personal essays, seven collections of poems, edited three poetry anthologies and co-edited Robert Bly in This World, University of Minnesota Press.
Lynne Buchanan : The Poetry of Being
Essays by Lynne Buchanan and Pradip Malde; additional poems by James Lenfestey
112 pages; 65 photographies
10 x 10 pouces
ISBN-13 : 9781954119239
50 $ US