CAMERA BY MAXINE CHERNOFF (SUBITO PRESS, 2017)
The earth is the ground of truth, the platform upon which we live and breathe. The natural world is therefore the ground of poetry as well, and it's the poet's duty to defend it, since nature cannot speak for itself: "hence, Emily Dickinson," (1) writes Maxine Chernoff in her beguiling introduction. And, hence, Camera.
Emily Dickinson's world may have been geographically limited but the scope of her vision was large, tending to the universal. In Camera, Chernoff takes on the notion of limitation as her starting point, creating a work of remarkable breadth while accepting and even embracing the confinement imposed by time and space--or the shape of a window frame. She invites limitation as something necessary, as the very essence of her task.
There's creative power in a limit. It condenses time, heightens emotions. That is why photography is so bewitching. A camera lens focuses and narrows the point of view, centering the gaze on a particular instance of the world--and then it creates a brand new version of the truth.
These poems perform much as a camera does, offering up new visions of hills and vines, bones and birds and feathers. Time and light are...