Before and After Deja Vu

29 Jan

7:25 a.m. — Atlanta

listening to Kingston Market with Harry Belafonte

Hello, all. Ready for pictures? I have a strange little collection for you to peruse. I came across these when P J Kaiser featured them in a blog post. I will give you the link to her blog, as they are her find. Once you arrive, you will find two links to collections of Irina Werning’s before and after photographs of people in Kaiser’s Inspiration Minute.

Stay with me a minute. Yes, you. I saw your hand dart for your mouse.

Werning, who is from Buenos Aires, says of this project: ‘I love old photos. I admit being a nosey photographer. As soon as I step into someone else’s house, I start sniffing for them. Most of us are fascinated by their retro look but to me, it’s imagining how people would feel and look like if they were to reenact them today… Two years ago, I decided to actually do this. So, with my camera, I started inviting people to go back to their future.’

As you skim through the photographs, pay attention to signals from your brain. You want to note the pictures that cause a blip, whether positive or negative. When the blip occurs, stop and jot immediate reactions, as well as any ideas that pop in, for a possible angle. Once you have been through the collections, narrow down your choices. If you cannot choose between a couple, meld them. Your poem isn’t about the photographs, so it doesn’t matter.

What should the poem be about? The people, or the story behind what you see. And, yes, you might want to use the conceit of your speaker coming across a couple of photographs and speculating, but you do not have to. Unlike last week, where we talked about the moment of shifting from before to after with an object, or place, with these you’ll probably want to have a brief acknowledgment of once and concentration on after, or the other way around. I hope that makes sense. The good news? Anything you write is right. Yes, I am cute.

You might want to try a portrait poem, where you transcribe into words what you see in the photograph. You can leave as is, or add the who, what, where, when. The photographs that elicit the strongest emotions are the ones you want to look at, to ask yourself what it is that attracts or repels you. Use what you discover as part of your speaker’s tone of voice.

Now you can go look!

I’ll see you Thursday for some thoughts on my insistence on jotting and noting; Friday, for the prompt roundup; and next Tuesday for a found prompt.

Happy writing, everyone.


Posted by on 29/01/2013 in exercises, poetry, writing


Tags: , , , ,

23 responses to “Before and After Deja Vu

  1. markwindham

    29/01/2013 at 9:32 am

    psst…add the title. 😉

  2. julespaige

    29/01/2013 at 10:21 am

    This looks very interestink darlink…however I’ve got some rescuing to do this morning.
    Elder son is left without a car, and for the moment we have one to spare…

    Hey…did you ever learn to drive? Driving might just be in your future! *giggle*

    • margo roby

      30/01/2013 at 7:31 am

      Jules, are you sniffing the glue, again? been at the cooking sherry?!

      Come back at your leisure ‘-)

      No, no driving yet. Atlanta is not a good city for that.

      • julespaige

        30/01/2013 at 7:58 am

        I did look at the link. kinda strange. Especially since I was looking at my computer program the other week or so and they have an application that makes photos look like they were taken in the 1960’s-1970’s – that kind of orange background. I liked most of them. A few just didn’t appeal. Interesting concept – that is for sure.

        What you donna like akents? Do we gotta find a paira concrete galoshes for you? (galoshes -there is a word I haven’t heard of in years – my grandparents used to use it, but I looked it up it isn’t Italian -the origin is: 1325–75; Middle English < Old French galoche, of obscure origin). There is a limited play in the written word. Hmm- I don't think I have any cooking sherry – I must just be plain weird. 🙂

      • julespaige

        30/01/2013 at 8:01 am

        “Plain Weird” and odd Amish-man or just oximoronic?

        • margo roby

          30/01/2013 at 8:07 am

          You nut. You’re so good for me. I can now enter the day with a smile.

          I love word origins. I can lose myself in them for quite a while. There must be a prompt wrapped up in there somewhere.

          • julespaige

            30/01/2013 at 8:15 am

            I wonder if other languages can do what American English does. The flex, the stretch, the improbable, and the impossible all accomplished with a ‘rye’ grin. (sorry I just can’t help myself…)

  3. vivinfrance

    29/01/2013 at 10:43 am

    I’d love to, but I’m concentrating on submissions for a bit. Maybe I’ll come back to it later. Still I must thank you for all the trouble you take and the treats you give us.

    • margo roby

      30/01/2013 at 7:33 am

      Submissions trumps, ViV. There will always be other things. You are welcome; it really is a pleasure, even if you all are too busy to do aught but read.

  4. barbara_y

    29/01/2013 at 10:55 am

    Much as I liked the kid in the boots, I had to go with the one that didn’t seem to work.

    • margo roby

      30/01/2013 at 7:35 am

      An interesting take, Barbara. I’m on my way.

  5. Hannah Gosselin

    29/01/2013 at 11:53 am

    • margo roby

      30/01/2013 at 7:40 am

      Fun, huh? You are welcome Hannah :-).

      • Hannah Gosselin

        30/01/2013 at 11:26 am

        Yep!! Smiles…mid-week smiles to you, Margo. 🙂

  6. Misky

    29/01/2013 at 12:35 pm

  7. markwindham

    30/01/2013 at 7:17 am

    I somewhat hate it when a poem pulls me out of bed when I need to sleep….. Then again…

    • margo roby

      30/01/2013 at 7:42 am

      You would hate it more if you didn’t get up, but vaguely remembered you had a poem, when you wake up :-).

      • markwindham

        30/01/2013 at 10:53 am

        I know, that is the reason I got up.

  8. Pamela

    31/01/2013 at 1:25 am

    Margo, I went to the link, and I must say those photos disturbed me in a weird way, like when I see myself in “now” and “then” pics. Oy Vey! I like this prompt, as I do all your prompts. I have stowed it away with the others for my (ha ha ha) free time. It is now after midnight and I have to get up at 7.30, what the hell am I doing? Thanks for all you do, my friend.


    • margo roby

      31/01/2013 at 7:38 am

      They are disturbing, aren’t they, Pamela? I hesitated before using them, only because they made me feel weird, but I also knew that they were good material.

      I know, I know. I keep putting prompts away in files and folders. What happened to those days when we used to be able to write and do other things! And, you have to actually leave your house and work. I have no excuse!

      Good to see you here, even for a stop and run.



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