A Moment of Inspiration

a lensball on the beach with tidal water

Regular readers of this blog will know that the natural beauty of our world is a constant source of inspiration to me and today I am showing you what lies behind the way my photographs and poems are shared together.

It all began during a week’s Summer School at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen’s University Belfast, and my visit to the Linen Hall Library in July 2007.

a man with a hat reading a paper in a library

Images and Reflections, both as book and exhibition, was one of the landmarks of the Linen Hall Library’s Open Door Millennium Festival and also marked the opening of the Library’s extended premises. It brought together vivid photographs of the Ulster of the last century with powerful contemporary writing by many of the province’s leading literary figures.

Seamus Heaney selected a photograph from the 1930s of a threshing scene that fitted perfectly with his poem Threshing Day. Michael Longley chose a photograph of a towpath of the early 1900s to accompany his poem In Memory of My Parents. Brian Keenan selected an old photograph of children at a cottage in Glenoe and created the poem Album to sit alongside it. Gerald Dawe immediately decided on a photograph of an emigrant family leaving Derry in the 1930s and knew that was the image he wanted to write a poem for.

Graduation Hall at Queen's University, Belfast

Gerald was leading our poetry workshop on writing poems for and from photographs as part of the Summer School. He told us that the photograph of the emigrant family leaving Derry was pinned to a board above his writing desk for months and he enjoyed spending time with it, growing familiar with the faces inside the photograph and when the Linen Hall Library asked him if they could have a poem for the exhibition he approached it from within the image and wrote it in the mother’s voice. It is a beautiful poem called Snap, symbolising both the idea of a snapshot and the being snapped away from a life they knew.

The poem has since been included in his Selected Poems (published in 2012).

Queen's University Belfast with Summer flowers

Prior to my week in Belfast my photography and my writing had been separate interests and I rarely brought the two together. Since then I’ve written poems to accompany photographs from a variety of angles and taken photographs to accompany existing poems. I will always be grateful to Gerry for sharing his insights during his wonderful workshop.

Images and Reflections is a book I treasure to this day and it continues to inspire me. It is available from the Linen Hall Library and from Amazon.

Wishing you a blessed Sunday and a peaceful week ahead,

with love from Xenia xxx

Photographs by Xenia Tran, edited in lr.

Lens-Artists Weekly Photo Challenge #115: Inspiration

Your Daily Word Prompt: Vivify

Author: Tranature - quiet moments in nature

The stories, poems and photographs on Tranature are the original creative work of Xenia Tran, inspired by the natural surroundings of the Scottish Highlands.

24 thoughts on “A Moment of Inspiration”

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words dear Eliza, the challenge was a lovely opportunity to look back in gratitude at what originally inspired me to bring my poems and images together πŸ’– xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A lovely post on your inspiration. I spent four years at Queen’s university in Belfast many years ago so i recognise you last photograph. I love many of Seamus Heaney poems, such a gifted poet and observer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words dear Karina and what a treat to spend four years at Queens! Seamus Heaney’s poems are extra special and he left us such a gift with his words and observations πŸ’œ xxx

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words dear Tina and for hosting this lovely challenge πŸ€—πŸ’– xxx


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words dear Kim, it’s a pleasure to share and so glad you enjoyed Gerry’s reading of the poem too πŸ€—πŸ’– xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So nice to learn of your journey and how you arrived where you are today. The Snap poem is entrancing. I can see them and feel that sense of sorrow when reaching the open ocean with the future unknown. I once sat on a plane from London to Toronto with a family leaving Belfast for Winnipeg. I spoke with the father at some length. I wondered if they had any idea how severe the Winnipeg winters were and then remembered what was happening in Belfast at that time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words dear Anne and for sharing your story too. That sense of sorrow of leaving everyone and everything you know behind is so well captured by Gerry in his poem and I think many people will be able to relate to it. I hope everything worked out for the family you met on the plane and they’re keeping warm in the Winnipeg Winter πŸ’œ xxx


    1. Thank you so much for your kind words dear John, this is a real treasure of a library and I think you’ll enjoy spending time there too πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

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