Other Works
By Poetographer
Doug Houseworth

I never wrote a poem until age 28, nor had much conscious interest in it. As a photographer, I didn't get started until age 35. Both have been a passion ever since. In writing "The Month Poems", I was on a mission. The idea to do it came to me in the 70's. That it would take 43 years was not in the plan. With "Other Works" , there was no plan. When things come together, I go with it.

I often puzzle over what causes a person to be a poet. For me, it starts with a feeling or impression of something. Sometimes, the feeling is hard to identify. If it's compelling enough, I start to express it in as few words as possible, and still capture the feeling. In my view, being able to express the core essence of something is what poetry is all about. Other times, a line will simply pop into my head. In this collection, an example of this is "The Only Boat". For many years, we heated with wood. One cold, midwinter day, I went outside for an armload of firewood. As I bent over to gather the wood, this line came out of nowhere, "The only boat on a fresh water sea". It took a few days for the rest of the poem to come. It took over 30 years to get the right photo. Living here in Northern Michigan, there are many opportunities to photograph boats in beautiful skies and water. There were many attempts, but none seemed to match the poem. Finally, on a trip back from Mackinaw Island with family, there it was in The Straits of Mackinaw. Everything was right.

A similar thing happened with the poem "Michigan". One day, I was driving around with my Brother-in-law. I wanted to show him the highest elevation in Emmet County. We drove out in the middle of this beautiful alfalfa field, and in full view was a stunning panorama of the Mackinaw Bridge and the Straits of Mackinaw. It was a beautiful July day, and happened to be the birthday of my oldest son John, who had drowned in Little Traverse Bay on the previous October. While taking in the intensity of the moment, the line, "land of the eagle's heart" came to me. Again, it took a few days to the finish poem. Several times, I drove back to that same spot to capture the image. It just wasn't there. Last year while reviewing some aerial photography of the bridge and Straits of Mackinaw, I noticed the perfect match. These photos had been taken on a real estate photo shoot with my friend and pilot, Carl Muma. Usually, the event of the poem and photograph are quite far apart. It is always a joy when they come together. This work is offered as both prints and note cards.

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