When I was in college at Northwestern University back in the days when Women's Studies was a new discipline (figure out the years on your own), I had the great fortune to hear Margaret Atwood read to a small group of about 30 women students. I will never forget the question that one of those students asked Atwood: what are the most important themes in your work? I have also never forgotten Atwood's reply: I don't think about my themes; I just write. I leave figuring out my themes to graduate students.
Like Atwood (can I really compare myself to her?), I don't spend much time thinking about the recurring themes in my own work. However, in the last few months I've had several writer friends point out some interesting observations about my poetry, themes and metaphors I had never noticed myself. I guess that is why I've begun to think about subjects that interest me most - and not just in my writing.
Those who know me also know how much I love to travel. In fact, it's
become rather an obsession for me. Like all of my family, I love taking
photographs to record those trips. Recently, I have become aware of my predilection for taking photographs of groups of people going about their lives totally unaware of my presence behind them.
There is something I find so provocative about watching these people
interacting with each other. I can only imagine what they say to each
other, but I love the fact that I can record a snippet of their
relationships with each other. So I have images of school children
drawing on the museum floor in Bilbao, Spain.
And a photograph of young Buddhist monks at lunch at a temple in Chiang Mai, Thailand as well as a group of school girls sitting on a dock in Zanzibar.
And then one of the most poignant images - of these women on a ferry to Istanbul. I found it very difficult to talk to the
women in Turkey and this group gazing out at the sea seemed symbolic of our separation.
Just why do I enjoy capturing such images while I stay in the
background? Well, I don't know, and I'll leave that to others to
figure out. For now, I just want to keep traveling and finding more
groups like these.