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  • [SWP: Behind the Book] Unfolding in Light: A Sisters' Journey in Photography and Poetry
This blog was featured on 08/27/2016
[SWP: Behind the Book] Unfolding in Light: A Sisters' Journey in Photography and Poetry
Written by
claire scott
December 2015
Written by
claire scott
December 2015

Unfolding in Light: A Sisters’ Journey in Photography and Poetry is an artistic collaboration between two sisters, a photographer and a poet. It invites readers to discover the beauty, simplicity and spirituality that flow through hands. It offers a vision of hands as symbols and archetypes, allowing the numinous to shine through the mundane. 

Unfolding in Light is about connection, opening a wider lens to community: the community of children, parents, lovers, artists and musicians. The community of beer drinkers, coffee drinkers, fishermen and card players. The community of  prayer.


windless morning                                                               

early the pond

unbroken stillness

blankets the earth

a seamless junction time and timeless

in the silvered sun

liminal space calls


a moment

unfolding in light


I have lived a long life

Memories rest uneasily

Shifting and shambling

Sour memories undigested

Moments of pride and pettiness

Shame filled and shame flawed


Today I cast my line

Into the width of the river

My back warmed by the sun

A rockfish flashes in the distance

A lone heron perched on a rock

Its long bill pointed, waiting

A quiet joy floods the moment

I am at peace.



Q. How did this book come about?

JOAN: I loved a picture of our grandfather’s hands that I first saw when I was a child. I tried drawing hands. I started photographing them. Eventually, I thought about doing a book of photos of hands, but it wasn’t until a few  years ago that it started to become a reality. I shared the idea with Claire, who said  she would keep an eye out for some poetry that might work in the book. A week later I called her and said, “I want you to write the poetry.” She gulped and agreed.

And so the book was born.


Q. How was it to write a book together, especially since Joan lives in Maryland and Claire lives in California?

CLAIRE:  Us over-seventy-luddites climbed the learning curve to master Dropbox, as well as other computer skills. We talked several times a week (as we often do), and met a few times either here or there. It was much simpler and much more fun than I had thought.


Q. What was hard and what was easy about creating this book?

JOAN: The most fun was working on a project together. We had many laughs, some struggles that were mostly about the publishing process and not our book. Publishing was new to us both and we had a lot to learn. Still do.

CLAIRE: We have similar aesthetics, and we agreed that either could have a veto on a poem or a photograph. We also really respect each other as artists. As Joan said, it was challenging to find ourselves in the world of publishing which has its own procedures and vocabulary. She Writes was incredibly supportive.


Q. What was the process each of you went through as you created a photograph or a poem?

JOAN: I almost always have my camera with me, giving me the chance to take advantage of opportunities as I wander around. Many times I talked to the person to get permission to take the picture and then was treated to a story of his or her life.

CLAIRE: Joan would send me a photo and I would put it on my desk for a few days, looking at it often. Sometimes I dreamt of it. The poems for some photos came relatively easily; others I really struggled to see it from the inside or to capture the feelings evoked. Then, of course revise and revise. Throw out and start again.


Q. Final thoughts?

CLAIRE: I loved working on this book with my sister. We had many wonderful moments and of course some challenging ones.  I remember one day we spread out the entire book on the floor and savored what we had created together.

JOAN: It has been such a delightful, frustrating, fulfilling, and just plain fun project.  The best part was that we did it together!


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  • claire scott

    I so appreciate your comments.  Happy New Year to you too!  Claire

  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    Thank you so much for sharing your process with us.  I very much enjoyed reading about it. Happy New Year! ~:0)

  • claire scott

    thanks Maureen!!!  it was great fun. happy holidays!

  • Maureen E. Doallas

    Lovely project!

  • claire scott

    Thanks so much Irene.  Us luddites had lots of help.  And we are still luddites, but slightly better informed.  I hope you enjoy the book.  

  • Irene Allison

    What a beautiful, inspiring project! I love the photos, the thoughts and poem you shared, the light that emanates throughout. Just lovely! Also interesting to learn how you collaborated as "luddites" across big distances to successfully bring it together. And I'm betting this is the kind of book to keep nearby and savour slowly.