Two of my favorite things, photography and poetry combine in this unique and beautiful book of innovative photopoems by a woman with a unique and beautiful name – Oneida Morningstar Cramer. Her first published work, Idealism is an attractive flower, which won Gold in the poetry category of the 2015 Feathered Quill Book Awards and also received the 2015 North Texas Book Festival Silver Book Award, is a pleasurable wander through the author’s perspective and imagination — drawing the reader to be present and rapt in the wonderment of each moment frozen in her photographs. Cramer is simple in her presentation, occasionally philosophical, and often comical or charming in her compositions — speaking through a child-like voice, the voice of the experienced parent, the voice of the scientist, or her personal perspective.
Perhaps the number of poems in this book relate to one of it’s common themes – music —as in one poem for each of the eighty-eight keys on a piano. Coincidentally, or not, it ends in a musical poem that may wrap up the overall intention of this book. “Bow for the muse… Bow for the music,” is perhaps a summation of the muse each photograph inspires and the music (or art) created by the author as a result. (I was not surprised to read that she had worked for a music conservatory.)
Then, I think of the title photopoem, Idealism is an attractive flower; and I wonder if it is about using imagination to step outside reality, to create the music, to change the reader’s mental state – which may be all the reader truly knows. The theme that stands out most is of a temporal nature — interestingly, so is music (and mental states). She notes the temporary, “ephemeral” nature of life. Another strong theme, not entirely unrelated to time (or music), are her allusions to the stage performance. We are given a space – a stage, a backdrop, maybe some props, and life awaits our actions. She will also show you her ecological passion, kinetic sensibilities, familial love, and musings on modern life and joys of past times.
This beautiful, Smyth sewn book has eighty-eight stunning photographs (including the cover) juxtaposed with words thoughtfully arranged within and sometimes outside the borders of the photograph in various fonts and colors, although Century Gothic seems to be appreciated. (What’s not to love?!) The result is a mixed media art otherwise known as photopoem. Inspired by her work as a journalist/photographer, O.M. Cramer developed this form of art. In the photopoem, the image on the page and the images the author conjures through words are interdependent and transfix the reader simultaneously. One photograph, not accompanied by words, has no need for them.
Her poems are short – frequently consisting of one stanza with about three stressed beats per line, make skilled use of assonance and consonance, and often illustrate with action and personification. I suspect she is a fan of T.S. Elliot. Rarely does she make use of rhyme — one exception being the wonderfully musical, ECHO CHAMBER.
It was difficult to highlight my favorites without spoiling the book. While sitting in a drugstore… yanked my heartstrings. The simple image of a butterfly resting atop the orange stamens of a Marigold personifies the soda jerk and evokes memories of sipping on a root beer float while sitting on a spinning stool at the long counter in front of the soda fountain. In the artist studio… is a delight for the eyes and mind. In a playful font, she employs action and props to describe different types of artists. Her finale describes the performance of the chef with vividness intensified by the image of hands working over bowls surrounded by the props of the kitchen bathed in warm light. Down my alley… is one of two photos with felines as subject; but the felines’ challenges become very human in her poetry. This high-bred house cat sitting at an open gate longs to be feral– to take her “chance to run in the wind,” or will she “follow the line?”
Aside from the sublime contents – I particularly love the size (6” x 9”), shape, and weight of this book; as it makes it easy to hold in one hand, bring it in close, and absorb every detail of the photography and layout. The glossy photos enhance the experience. Enjoy drinking in the image before reading the text. This durable hardcover book has a matte finish and includes the author’s photo and bio on the back cover. Aside from a short dedication and introduction, Idealism is an attractive flower consists of page after satisfying page of photopoems that utilize the space provided unfettered by page numbers or ornate borders. If you appreciate sweet simplicity and creative imagination, I recommend this book from Eudora Publishing Company, ISBN-13: 978-0-9905190-0-3, for $24.99, $4.99 (e-book — available as an .epub on iBooks release date, publisher: 12.31.14, Eudora Publishing Company, genre: poetry/photography).
Idealism is an attractive flower is available at Amazon – URL: http://amzn.com/0990519007 and iTunes (e-book) – URL: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/idealism-is-attractive-flower/id960973546?mt=11&uo=4.