Journey into Poetry: Claire Burge


The room was dank. Yet, the smell of freshly washed man, birthing dog, and piercing chemical mixed seamlessly to create a safe haven for me. I loved this place.

Effortlessly, I would give up elongated sunshine hours to step into this dark world of fixer and toner: yellow buckets that held liquid magic.

Cameras hung on the door handle. Lenses balanced on the shelves above the bench. The door creaked, the cement floor was cool.

A stool with gangly sturdy metal feet held an unraveling red foam cover together. It claimed a corner of the room as it’s own, where the light tried to steal its way in, but where my father’s large creased hands had stuffed foam into crevices to keep it out.

I would stretch my little arms up upward, grip the cold metal of the workbench and hoist my body.

I would balance my elbows on the wood panel while I stood tranfixed, staring at my father as negatives became something else entirely.

The lifting from one liquid to the next, the pegging up on the line strung above our heads, it all funneled into me, burying itself until I discovered it again, years later.

Visual art does this.

It permeates the brain at punctured intervals that we may not perceive, until years later, when something calls it outward, makes it tangible, re-contextualises it in the present.

Instant has cheapened us. We need the forgotten process but we don’t know it.

It starts with the rolling of the film into the camera body; the clicking of the dial, the turning of the wheel to set the light metre just so; the rolling back of the film to prepare it for it’s liquid birth; the fixer; the toner.

We need the process to appreciate the art.

Since reading a poem a day, I have developed something unexpected. A few months ago I was not aware of the need but it grew within me, without my knowing.

A few weeks ago, it revealed itself: the words themselves were no longer enough. I needed an extension to them: I needed to discuss them in order to process them. I needed to talk in images.

And so I started capturing poetry.

The process is cathartic. It embeds itself more deeply into the nervous system.

Image sourced via creative commons on Flickr, Film Strip by Sven-S Prost. Post by Claire Burge.


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  1. L. L. Barkat says

    Yes, I agree with Tania. Beautiful writing. *Great* writing. :)

    I was right with you in that space of the past. And I was right with you as it moved forward into your present. The words did that. The images, so strong.

  2. says

    Amy, I’m reading your response and thinking about your love of sport… Do you see physical activity as an art form?

    The process changing the body, the inner soul…

  3. says

    I had to come and read again — I spent the first couple of times trying to figure out what I was going to do with the smells in the first paragraph. 😉

    The process. Nurturing a thing from what it is (or isn’t) in this moment into what it will be in the next.

  4. says

    Around here the brand o’ boots is MuckBoots and why, yes, miss Claire, I’m just a waiting for the parade.

    I’ll have to take a picture of the camera we inherited from my husband’s grandpa. He had purchased it during WWII in Germany. Two pros have offered to buy it; so that solidified our decision to keep it. It scares me a little cause I don’t want to break it. That, and my techno-nitwit ailment might prove quite detrimental to its health.


  5. says

    Claire 6 Lyla 0

    That’s a win for me Lyla ; )

    It was as potent and as strange as I described it, yet somehow totally comforting. I can still smell the dog breath licking off new born blood. Pungent at its very least.

    And yes, you bring out something that I like very much… the idea of the body/mind nurturing, incubating if you will the process.

  6. says

    D, you have me hopping! Please, please, please post pictures of that camera? I would love to see it.

    Can I have me some muck boots too, please miss? ; )

  7. says

    Wait. I know it’s a win for you. But how do reckon scoring 6?

    (I’m commenting in Darlene’s vicinity, so I have to use the word “reckon” to feel like I fit in.)

  8. says

    For some reason this brings tears Claire. Yes – the process. The Father is all about process. Perhaps that’s why it is so necessary for us too. I’m looking forward to seeing your poetry in pictures.

  9. says

    Miss Claire,

    I would have to find that old voigtlander in the mess and mounds of unpacked boxes. Even though we’ve been in the house for 5 months, we don’t have closets or shelves or cupboards — so most is still packed. And I packed it so good because I was afraid of it breaking. I reckon it’ll take me a good while to find it.

    And about those boots. They cost a pretty penny. After 4 years of use, mine have three holes that I’ve successfully repaired with strips of gray duct tape (hhhmmm, we should share that duct tape bit with LL). Now they are uglier than ever, but still keep the manure out. (well, mostly; okay, partly).

  10. says

    Miss Claire,

    I know about your email avoidance plan for this year and forevermore, BUT I found the camera, took photos of the photo-taker, and emailed them to you. If’n ya wanna see, you gotta check at least one email.

  11. says

    @Lyla… I am back my dear ; ) You ready for this?

    6-0 is a tennis score and i reckon it works so well for the banter you bat around.


    @Darlene… Miss I love those photos. Yes, I went into my email just for you! They need to go up on Flickr and onto your site. They are INCREDIBLE!

    @Anne, thank you for the kind words.

    @Linda, yes the process. You know it so well. Sending love.

    @Sam, I thought about your posts on culture when I wrote this piece and it somehow tied all your posts together in my head. Culture is a process, a beautiful one that takes years and years of formation to final become a place of being within a human, not so?

  12. says

    This is so beautiful and wonderful. I cannot wait to watch this process evolve and to watch this form of poetry and word art transform. Beautiful post. Just lovely.
    Glad I popped over here.

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