By Barbara Guest 1920–2006 Barbara Guest
In the past we listened to photographs. They heard our voice speak.   
Alive, active. What had been distance was memory.    Dusk came,
Pushed us forward,   emptying the laboratory   each night undisturbed by   

      In the city of X, they lived together. Always morose, her lips
soothed him. The piano was arranged in the old manner, light entered the   
window, street lamps at the single tree.

      Emotion evoked by a single light on a subject is not transferable to   
photographs of the improved city. The camera, once
commented freely amid rivering and lost gutters of treeless parks or avenue.   
The old camera refused to penetrate the unknown. Its heart was soft,   

      Now distributed is photography of new government building. We are   
forbidden to observe despair silent in old photographs.

Barbara Guest, “Photographs” from Miniatures and Other Poems. Copyright © 2003 by Barbara Guest. Reprinted by permission of Wesleyan University Press.

Source: Miniatures and Other Poems (2002)

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Poet Barbara Guest 1920–2006

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

Subjects Photography & Film, Arts & Sciences

 Barbara  Guest


Barbara Guest rose to prominence in the late 1950s as a member of an informal group of writers known as the New York school of poets whose membership included Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, and James Schuyler. Their innovative approach to poetry was influenced by modern art, especially surrealism and abstract expressionism. Guest drew on her own background in art (she worked for Art News magazine in the 1950s) to create poetry . . .

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SUBJECT Photography & Film, Arts & Sciences

SCHOOL / PERIOD New York School

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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