Tag Archives: photography

Blue Ridge Reflections: Photos with Matching Poems from Western North Carolina

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When my wife Patricia Joynes sees a morning fog or the beginning of a crimson sunset, she abruptly leaves the house to submit to her passion. She is a nature photographer.

Years ago, when her 35 mm film cameras and her role as family event documentarian became obsolete, Pat turned her attention to nature photography with a small Canon Power Shot S110 digital camera. Her focus was on the Appalachian Mountains near our home around the Blue Ridge Parkway for its natural beauty aesthetics.

Strolling at the Blowing Rock

The Blowing Rock Attraction, Blowing Rock, NC

Her first published credits were in books and journals, but her Blue Ridge photographs became recognized in the Town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina annual calendars (2015, cover in 2016, and three pictures in 2017) and the annual Blue Ridge Parkway calendar (2017, 2018).

Sunset Capture

Pat also published annual family calendars of her nature photos with aphorisms by me in 2016 and 2017. By that date, the edited file of her Blue Ridge-centered photographs exceeded 10,000 images!

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Mayview Park, Blowing Rock, NC

In early 2017, Pat asked me, a published poet, to write poems inspired by specific photographs. We were both amazed at the collaborative results as the first poems emerged. The titles give clues to the content: The Puddle Portal, The Sanctified Bridge, Split-Rail Fence, and Solitary Bench. Week after week, as Pat presented me with other photographs, I wrote matching poems. By mid-September I had completed 29 of them!

The urge to share what seemed to us a remarkable series of creative events caused us to edit and design a collection of 32 photographs and 20 poems titled Blue Ridge Reflections: Photos with Matching Poems from Western North Carolina. The soft-cover edition of the book may be viewed and purchased here.

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Mayview Park, Blowing Rock, NC

 

Here is a sample photo and poem from the book.

Become the First

Become the First

Before there were human eyes to see

there were a millennia of dawns

and foggy mountain wooded sunsets

whose nascent glory went unreported.

 

From any high Blue Ridge vantage point

creation unfolds in waves of light,

and time is a cycle of the sun

that produces growth and the promise

of life in its regular passing.

 

What was it like to be the first to see

the distant waves of an evergreen sea?

What was the valley fog assumed to be?

And what monsters did they prepare to flee?

 

Primal emotions are felt in all ages

as the wild universe is explored.

A ravens’ rock becomes sacrosanct

in a landscape bereaved of doors.

Rejoice that the search for tomorrows

is still the possibility of today.

Become the first to reach the mountaintop

and see its natural wonders on display.

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The Travel Adventures of Flat Monty

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Flat Monty inspects the cruise ship kitchen.

My gifted and talented younger sister, Rita, greatly surprised me when she telephoned to say that she was taking me on a luxury Mediterranean cruise with land excursions to some of the most historic and beautiful sites in Europe.

Pat, my wife, was unfortunately not included obviously due to the huge added expense. It would be awkward to leave Pat behind, but how could I not accept this trip of a lifetime from my now beloved incredibly generous sister?

 

My mind immediately raced to the implications of the short-notice trip. The cruise wear from a dated Alaskan cruise was not suitable for May in Barcelona if it could even be found. Then, too, I’d need immediate airline reservations for the flight from Charlotte to Miami in order to meet Rita for the transatlantic flight. The grand tour was to begin in less than ten days!

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Flat Monty pauses outside the Basilica in Venice.

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The Sorrento hills provide a scenic retreat for Flat Monty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Always ready to video, Flat Monty arrives in Nice.

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Flat Monty is always accompanied by his dedicated bodyguard Dennis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flat Monty at his favorite shipboard bar.

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The bulging-eyes guy from the movie Young Frankenstein attempts to pose with Flat Monty.

 

Rita waited a few smiling seconds as my excitement peaked before she explained the crucial caveat. I would not be making the trip in person. I would be traveling as Flat Monty. Totally confused, I had to ask, “Who the hell is Flat Monty?”

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Flat Monty visits the hidden monument to mathematical Pi somewhere in Italy.

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Flat Monty comes to life amid the ruins of ancient Pompeii.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being technology challenged, I was unaware that photo cutouts of me could be creatively positioned in front of a camera phone so as to give the illusion that I was present at some remarkable place or circumstance.

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My sister Rita carries Flat Monty on the next grand adventure.

 

The photos of Flat Monty that Rita later produced on her grand tour have been captioned for the sake of context, if not for cruelty. Perhaps she thinks that I will use them to impress strangers as I once did with an office wall full of celebrity photos falsely dedicated to me.

 

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Flat Monty enjoys a cigar off the Piazza de San Marco in Venice.

The framed photo of Albert Einstein, for example, was inscribed with thanks for my helping him with quantum physics. John Wayne wrote that he looked forward to working with me on his next movie. Several sexy female movie stars intimated that they loved our nights together. President FDR thanked me for my wartime service although I was only four years old in 1945.

 

The wall of phony photos behind my magazine editor’s desk was my social satire on similar displays that I had seen in the offices of politicians. Too bad the Flat Monty technology was not available to me then. I might have appeared in a New York Yankees baseball uniform standing beside my heroes Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle.

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Flat Monty wins a gold medal for the discovery of a giant petrified frog.

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Flat Monty leads the way for an encounter with the world’s largest cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here then in the spirit of truth telling, if not a gesture toward sibling forgiveness, I hereby publish the fabulous travel adventures of Flat Monty. Trust me when I say, “I wish that I was there.”

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Flat Monty enjoys relaxing in his cruise ship stateroom.

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Travel adventures often imply danger for Flat Monty.

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Your Spouse as a Collaborator

Monty and his wife Pat

If you are a creative artist producing and publishing in the public arena, the focus of attention as a married couple will generally spotlight you.  Your wife or husband can thus become a background character in the wings of your stage-like life.  And although your spouse suffers the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune that are part of your creative career, the credit for endurance and any success is usually accredited to you alone. Your spouse is too often unfairly treated as second fiddle in a one-man band.  Worse yet, they become subconsciously considered a live-in groupie.

Monty speaking in Chicago bookstore. Photo by Pat Joynes

Some spouses of creative artists survive the attention focused on their mates by generating very successful careers in their own right.  They become doctors, lawyers, or Indian chiefs and thus can attain status by being introduced as such.  But if spouses are creative artists, too, the competition for success usually overwhelms the marriage.

How can the career artist solve the perceived-worth dilemma of the partner when all the daily evidence points to the slavish demands of the art?  Is devoted service to the artist’s production the purpose and destiny of the spouse’s life?

Pat at a Chicago bookstore signing

In our long marriage of nearly thirty years, my wife Pat and I have had to confront these questions.  People in the literary and publishing trades who know us assure me that Pat makes me as an artist possible.  Otherwise, by inference, I am impossible.  I have to admit that their observations are valid.  I am dyslexic; and if Pat were not a great copy editor, every one of my manuscripts would doubtlessly fall at least a letter grade.  Pat also has infinite patience where I have only a fingernail hold on it.

I married Pat, however, for the presence of her inner light, her beautiful, unselfish, compassionate soul.  All our friends and associates recognize her in this way; and when we are in the same room, I am second-banana to my beloved wife.

When American Indian elders read the Booker Series novels and wanted to

Photo by Pat Joynes

challenge me as the Anglo author, it was Pat whom they trusted first.  It was Pat who was invited into the Cherokee Nation as the Chosen Daughter of a Greatly Beloved Cherokee Grandmother and was named Morning Song in a tribal ceremony.

Pat has been included in all our book research trips.  She did a lot of the trip planning and backed up my location observations with photographs.  As a former magazine editor of photography, I soon realized that Pat had a photographer’s eye for content and composition, and I began to rely on her pictures in the writing of visual descriptions in my books.  Our trips together for her were sometimes respites from the household responsibilities that included three teenaged daughters.

Here are a few of Pat’s photographs that she had contributed to our book projects as well as some of her personal favorites.

On set of CELESTINE PROPHECY movie. Photo by Pat Joynes

Monty on the movie set of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY

On movie set of THE CELESTINE PROPHECY.

Movie location of CONVERSATIONS WITH GOD, Ashland, OR.

New Mexico roadside, location of novel DEAD WATER RITES. Photo by Pat Joynes

Alaska, location of novel JAMES MASON LIVES! Photo by Pat Joynes

Our street. Photo by Pat Joynes

Our dog Heidi on a local mountaintop.

A snowy day at home

Bass Lake, Blowing Rock, NC

Bryce National Park

Evening at Bass Lake

For any married artist, your spouse is both your companion and your career partner.  When you realize that you can have no success, no happiness, and no satisfaction from your art if your marriage doesn’t work, you will begin to celebrate your spouse as he or she deserves.

Photo by Jim Dillinger

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