Fine Art Photographer Sara Jane Boyers Adds Art to Poems

In 1922, T.S. Eliot began his famous poem, “The Waste Land,” with these lines:

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.

Was Eliot a clairvoyant, able to foresee April 2020 and the coronavirus? No, but as people are trapped in their homes, Circling the News has learned that fine arts photographer Sara Jane Boyers has been providing an uplifting and unexpected experience for people out on a walk in Santa Monica Canyon.

April is National Poetry Month “and yes, the month is almost finished,” Boyers said in an email. [But] “I love the fact that Knopf Books offers a Poem-A-Day in your email box early in the morning, during April. I’ve subscribed for years.”

In that spirit every morning, Boyers visits a Little Free Library near her home in Santa Monica Canyon, bringing a printed out daily poem and a print of one of her photographs.

On April 1, for example, her photograph was “one of my favorite neighbors for the past few years–‘Harry’ & ‘William,’ one of two mule deer that visits several times a year.” The last time was on April 9.

“When I first saw them, one at first –  the other probably nearby then unseen, it was the time of the Harry/Meghan wedding and the name “Harry” popped into my head. When “William joined Harry, I named him accordingly.”

She said she used to be able to tell them apart by their antlers, but they’ve lost their antlers, which are now growing back. “I haven’t ID’d them correctly, yet.”

Boyers is, like many artists, frustrated because “there is no place to show my work right now.”

With the poems, she generally shares photos of the canyon, the historic eucalyptus and the Park. “I take time to think about the poem I am taking outside and try to match a photo to it,” Boyers said. A prose poem taken from a Robin Robertson impression of New York City after WWII, was paired with a shot from NYC that Boyers had always liked, but never used in any major project.

A native of Detroit, her exhibition “Detroit: Definition” opened in the fall of 2015 at the Maison de la Photographie in Lille, France and then in Paris at Galerie Claude Samuel during Paris Photo Week 2016. One of Boyers’ photographs from that series was on exhibition in the U.S. Pavillion at Italy’s prestigious 2016 Venice Architectural Biennale and at MOCAD, Detroit.

Boyers’ “Finding Chinatown: An American Story,” culminating a decade-long project that highlighted U.S. and Canadian Chinatowns, opened to critical acclaim in 2011.

And “Go Fly a Kite: Saturdays at the Beach with Tyrus Wong” was exhibited in San Francisco and New York City. This photographic story showed how Wong spent more than 40 years in retirement creating and flying handmade kites. Wong, who died at age 106, was considered one of the most influential and celebrated Asian-American artists of the 20th century.

Boyers’ “747 Wing House” photograph was selected by the American Society of Media Photographers as one of the “Best Architectural Photographs” of the year in 2012. The House was an architectural experiment in repurposing, using the wings of a decommissioned Boeing 747 airplane in Ventura County.

Her photos have been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times and the Huffington Post.

Regarding the Knopf poetry, Boyers said that once you subscribe, you are automatically reminded and sent poems in subsequent years. Visit: (http://knopfdoubleday.com/knopf-poetry-signup/).

There’s also the poetry foundation and the audio from that foundation: (https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/poem-of-the-day and https://www.poetryfoundation.org/podcasts/series/74634/audio-pod)

High school students and teachers can receive 180 poems for the days of the school year from the Library of Congress: (https://www.loc.gov/poetry/180/p180-list.html).

If you don’t live close enough to see Boyers’ daily photo, you can visit her website: sarajaneboyersphoto.com to see her spectacular work.

Harold, the squirrel, watches Sara Jane Boyers through her studio window. He was named Harold years ago for an old friend of Boyers’ parents, Harold Lyons, who lived on El Medio at a time when many scientists and engineers lived in the Palisades.  “He was the inventor of the atomic clock, a significant factor in rocket ships and space travel today and was such a fascinating man,” Boyers said. “I suppose the curiosity of the squirrel reminded me of Harold.”

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