Friday, April 13, 2018

Illustrated with a Poem

MacLeish text "Now we don't know" next to Migrant Mother imageWe seem to be obsessing over photograph books lately. Not sure why, but here is another one! In 1938, while the Depression still raged, the poet Archibald MacLeish made use of the Farm Security Administration's invitation to writers to make creative use of their vast photographic collections. MacLeish produced a poem, but rather than use the photographs to illustrate the poem, he reversed the usual format. On the dust jacket blurb, he writes: "Land of the Free" is the opposite of a book of poems illustrated by photographs. It is a book of photographs illustrated by a poem.

MacLeish text "We're wondering" next to image of woman on a cot in a tent
The "poem" is also referred to as a soundtrack, and similarly to how illustrations change the way you read a text, MacLeish's poem alters your vision of the photos.

MacLeish text about a riot next to image of a riot scene
It is a cool interplay of text and image well worth your time. Come in and ask for Land of the Free, Rare E169.M16.

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