Kids, this week we are enjoying a visit to an intrepid photographer who shares both photographic art and his poetry on his site, PhotoDiction, Photography and Writings by Mario Cerroni. We are invited to browse through his gallery, to enjoy his view of the world, and I promise, you are going to love looking at eastern Canada through this artist-poet's eyes.
Mario: I live in the village of Carp, which is just on the edge of the City of Ottawa. Ottawa is a wonderfully diverse city, with plenty of interesting buildings, landmarks, and people to photograph.
P.U.: Did you spend your boyhood in Ottawa? What was the best thing about that time; what do you remember when you look back at yourself as a child?
Mario: I was born in Italy but was a year and a half old when my family made its way to Canada. I grew up in Toronto and lived there until 1990, when I moved to the Ottawa area.
I would consider myself fortunate in that I had a very happy childhood. As a family we weren't well off by any means, but we never lacked for any of the necessities. I learned the value of saving for any extras as we kids (my two sisters and I) didn't get any regular allowance. There just wasn't anything extra. Yet 'family' was always celebrated with great dinners just about every Sunday, often with cousins and aunts and uncles joining us.
I grew up playing street hockey, baseball in the school yard, and wonderful neighbourhood games of hide and seek on summer nights. During the winter, my neighbour Ron and I would be out in our respective back yards with a hose creating our skating rinks so we could have "home" and "away" games of hockey. Although I'm sure it must have been very cold, I have only warm memories of those winter games in our yards.
Mario: My wife Maureen and I will celebrate our 34th wedding anniversary this year. We have four children (3 daughters, 1 son) and 3 grandchildren. And we are blessed once again, as each of our children has found a wonderful spouse and are well on their way to finding that happiness that I have found in my relationship with Maureen.
We will be celebrating our 34th with a trip to Australia, for one of our daughter's weddings in June. Looking very forward to seeing that part of the world.
P.U.: Congratulations on 34 happy years, and your wonderful family. Australia will be wonderful! What came first, your love of photography, or your writing? Did you find both of these loves as a child, or later in life?
If Trees Were Instruments,
taken at a music festival in Wakefield, Quebec
Mario: I saved up to buy a camera when I was 15 or 16. I bought a Pentax "Spotmatic F" and never looked back. I have always enjoyed photography, though I have had periods where 'life' just got in the way of taking photos.
I was a high school teacher by profession, and when I retired from the classroom in 2007, I decided that I needed to take up something to keep myself creative and to challenge my mind and heart. So since then, I have been devoting a large part of my time to my photography.
I also began writing poetry as a teenager. I was writing off and on for some time when I met a teacher in grade 9 that was running a writing club. I joined the club and was filled with inspiration throughout my high school years and into my undergraduate years at univiersity.
It has only been in the last 5 years or so that I have been combining my writing with my photography. Maintaining the blog has been a good discipline for me, challenging me - sometimes screaming at me - to keep updating it.
This work is entitled
"Feeling a Little Unhinged"-
there may be a poem to accompany it soon.
P.U.: The blogosphere does keep us hopping! You seem to be an active member of the art scene in Ottawa. Do you take part in art shows featuring your work?
Mario: I participate in a series of yearly studio tours in the Ottawa area. I also have shown in galleries and other public locations in the province. I have just recently been juried in to a gallery that is sponsored by the City of Ottawa and is artist run. As a result, I will have my photographs on display there on a regular basis throughout the year.
P.U.: Fantastic, Mario! How wonderful!
Mario: I currently have a one man show in a gallery in Almonte, (a town just outside of Ottawa), and am also working on getting together a series of photos for a one man show from mid-May to mid-June in the Trinity Gallery of the Shenkman Arts Center, also located in the city of Ottawa. I have been very pleased with how well my photography has been received.
I took this photo of street art and graffiti
in Montreal one weekend.
P.U.: How would you describe your work?
Mario: I am attracted by a variety of photographic subjects. Sometimes it is the patterns that I might see; sometimes the vibrant colour; and sometimes it might be the intrigue of a story behind what I am observing. Much of what I perceive involves an aspect of personification, where I see human emotion and experience in the scenes that I photograph. And it is those themes that often results in the poetry. So I tend to work from the photo in that the poem comes out of the photo, rather than a photo resulting from a poem that I have written.
P.U.: Is there a well known photographer whose work you especially admire?
Mario: Steve McCurry, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Jousuf Karsh, Ansell Adams, just to name a few. Photography, like all art, has many fine practitioners that one can learn a lot from.
This is an old factory window, boarded up.
I love the textures of the wood,
some behind glass, some exposed to the elements.
P.U.: I note you were interviewed on Blog Talk Radio, talking about your photography. Here's the link, kids. It's a cool interview!
P.U.: That was fun, Mario. Now, tell us: what do you love about poetry?
Mario: I guess poetry draws me in because you have to capture your thoughts and emotions in a short burst. It has always intrigued me that a whole story can unfold in just a few lines.
P.U.: Do you have a favorite all-time poet?
Mario: As a younger man, I really enjoyed the verses of TS Eliot and William Butler Yeats. Then I went through a stage where I fell in love with the writing of Walt Whitman. The one poet that has been a bit of a constant since I was a teenager and lasts into today for pure pleasure would be Leonard Cohen.
P.U.: Do you have a poem you would like to include here? And why did you choose this particular poem?
Mario: Sure, how about this one:
into my heart
is like a window
illuminating the part
you see as truth
bridge your view
to light the truth
i'd have you find
where your gaze
What I like about bridging two worlds is the brevity. I strive to be brief and get to the point, to say something important in as few words as possible. And I think that I am pleased with this poem in that it accomplishes that (at least for me) while emphasizing how important the connection between two people is. It carries a longing for love, while hinting at a truth that only exists when one accepts the love that's given by another.
P.U.: Mario, you have chosen my favorite recent poem of yours. It is so tender. You have been blogging for a long time. Has it had an impact on your work?
Mario: Absolutely. It allows me to share what I see in the world around me. It allows for a connection between people that visit my art shows. And it constantly hounds at me to keep being productive with my writing. I think sometimes that I could spend a lot of time just writing ideas and not finishing them. The 'tyranny' of the blog - it's out there and so it needs fresh stuff - is the push that I sometimes need to get a poem completed.
P.U.: Me, too, kiddo. I need that push as my couch is soooo comfy! Is there anything you’d like to say to the members of Poets United?
Mario: It's important to find inspiration and affirmation in order to feed your creativity. The community of poets that make up Poets United does both of that for me. Thanks to all of you for being there and posting, especially in the Pantry every Sunday, which always gives me a burst of energy to kick-start the week.
P.U.: Thank you so much, Mario, for allowing us a visit with you, and for your faithful participation at Poets United. We look forward to enjoying a lot more of your writing and your photographic art.
There you have it, kids, another multi-talented poet, sharing his unique view of the world with us. Do come back to see who we talk to next. Who knows? It might be you!