Episode 97: The Poetics of Photography with Charles Earl

Recorded on December 25, 2022

Intro – the poetics series. I started this series within the podcast because it seems to me that poetry exists everywhere in some form or another. Engaging with it in different disciplines and media helps to gain insight into poetry itself. What makes a poem poetry is an ongoing question of mine. So far we’ve had two episodes:

The Poetics of Music with Subhraj Singh (Episode 73, December 28, 2020)

The Poetics of Film with Jennifer Mulligan (Episode 84, December 30, 2021)

for this episode, I asked my husband, Charles Earl to talk with me about the poetics of photography. the plan is to look at a few photos and talk about them. I’ve included links in the show notes for you to follow along and take a look.

Charles Earl: https://charlesearl.com/

Broken Viewfinder: http://www.brokenviewfinder.com/

Please tell us about yourself and your history with photography.

  1. Sinking Body, 2016 – Joey Solomon


article by Erin Orbey

From his site, http://joeysolomon.net/, “Joey Solomon makes portraits of people and fleeting experiences of joy, intimacy, pain, and isolation.”

  • untitled, Mengwen Cao [Mungwen Sow – pronunciation]


a dream collab with Eddy Kwon their performance UMMA-YA, which tells the story of a young boy who learns he will be a mother.  I’ll share the link to the performance on the show notes: https://roulette.org/event/eddy-kwon-umma-ya/

from their site http://mengwencao.com/, “Mengwen Cao is a photographer, artist and educator. Born and raised in China, they are currently based in New York.

As a queer immigrant, they use care and tenderness to explore spaces between race, gender, and cultural identity. As a board member of Authority Collective, they are championing diverse narratives and perspectives in the media industry.”

  • Francesca Woodman, Untitled, MacDowell County, Peterborough, New Hampshire, 1980


from the site: https://woodmanfoundation.org/news/francesca-woodman-macdowell-colony-peterborough-new-hampshire-1980-from-the-archives

“Francesca Woodman (1958 – 1981), a prodigious talent, made her first mature photograph at the age of thirteen and created a body of work that has been critically acclaimed in the years since her death.”

“Francesca Woodman spent three weeks in July of 1980 on a fellowship at the MacDowell Colony, surrounded by other artists, as well as musicians, poets, novelists and the forests of rural New Hampshire. She arrived there from New York, already thinking about trees.”

“I would like words to be to my photographs what the photographs are to the text in Andre Breton’s ‘Nadia.’ He picks out the allusions and enigmatic details of some rather ordinary unmysterious snapshots and elaborates them into a story. I’d like my photographs to condense experience.”

In his book Red Bird, local poet Ian Roy wrote a series of poems about her photographs. Read “New Hampshire. p.43”

  • Katherine Takpannie, Our Women and Girls are Sacred # 3, 2016. Inkjet print, 91 x 137 cm. National Gallery of Canada – Movement and Expressive Bodies in Art exhibition


from her site: https://www.katherinetakpannie.ca

“named after the disproportionately high number of murdered and missing Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit in Canada,”

Almost every aspect of Inuit life has a belief attached to it: a way of showing people how to honour their values. As a self taught emerging photographer, Katherine Takpannie honours her Inuit worldview through her lens; one that is strongly grounded in social accountability and unity. To her, photography is the best medium to reclaim her identity and explore her experiences as an urban Inuk. Katherine has studied her history, culture and language, and uses her knowledge to seamlessly convey her vision and emotion.  Katherine’s visual language expands out from lush landscapes, to intimate self portraits, and gritty urban scenes. Takpannie’s artistic practice also focuses on revealing the complexities and nuances of urban Inuit life, which includes capturing performative and political gestures of contemporary issues that Indigenous Canadians face daily. Katherine aims to help raise awareness, and bring forth important conversations through her work.

  • Pink 227 – Ice Tile Photography, Cherry Archer

from her site: https://www.cherryarcher.com/

“Cherry Archer is a Vancouver based artist. She studied photography at Focal Point, Vancouver and fashion design at Sheridan College, Oakville, Ontario. She is know for her botanical ice tile photography. Her art is strongly influenced by ecopsychology, a field which fosters ecological thinking and documents how exposure to nature benefits mental, physical, and emotional well being.

Cherry is a gardener and an avid forager. Her process begins by snipping plants she grows in her garden or with a long forest or urban walk to forage botanicals. She composes, then incrementally freezes the vegetation in water to form what she calls Botanical Ice Tiles. The tiles are illuminated with coloured light, then photographed over several sessions. During each session Cherry experiments with changing light colour combinations and the varying frost patterns which form on the tile surface each time it exits the freezer. Between shoots Cherry often  refines the composition with additional plant matter and  texturizes the ice surface by  adding water with misters and droppers. Aesthetically her work is influenced by the skies, the delicate detailing, and the curvaceous lines of rococo era paintings. The images are abstract.  They are developed large enough to reveal the minute details of air bubbles, frost crystals, plant textures, and the occasionally accidentally trapped insect.”

  • Burial of Covid-19 Victim. Burial of a Covid-19 victim in snowy weather in Wadi-Rahmat Cemetery in Iran by people dressed in protective gear, observing health protocols., Mehrdad Vahed Yousefabad


The photo won the 2021 Lens Culture Critics Choice Award

from the site, “https://www.lensculture.com/mehrdad-vahed-yousef-abad

I was born 1991 in Tabriz, Iran. I’m started photography in 2015 as a freelance photographer and after graduating from MSc of Mechatronics at IAUT, I’m started long term projects focused in urban life and environment changes. I was selected as nominee for Talent of the Year 2020 in International Photography Grant, finalist of FINI 2020 Festival and finalist In portfolio section of HIPA 2019 and 2021 for my project ‘’Hope in the rain’’ about drought crisis of Urmia Lake.”




“Natalie is a fashion and conceptual photographer. She has a unique style that consists of cold tones, muted highlights, and an effect that looks like it’s been made using a cloudy lens filter.

Natalie’s haunting style has a candid quality to it. Most of her images look surreal. But there’s something relatable in each of them, such as a confused-looking child or an object you’d see in your everyday life.”

She’s in Portland, Oregan.

  • Power-Plant In The USA, Simon Yeung


A self-taught American photographer who travels the world in search of beauty and abandoned buildings

  • Charles Earl, Laudromat Series


Thanks to Charles Earl for being on the show and for processing, to Jennifer Pederson for the intro and outro, to all our guests in 2022 and to all of you for listening and sharing the Small Machine Talks.

Next year is going to focus on page/page adjacent activity. Stay tuned for our first guest, Karenjit Sandhu who will talk to us about her work,  Poetic Fragments from the Irritating Archive published by Guillemot Press. I wish all of you happy holidays and a a joyous and creative 2023.