Negatives (Poetic Developments)

in Peter Sanger’s Lightfield: The Photography of Thaddeus Holownia


We have not found out where we live and what we live for. …

But even shadows have biographies.

—Peter Sanger


Sean Howard








Art & Nature: the compact 

world. (Not easy! Going light


on words.) God forbid, ‘the

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia…’


Hidden by plain sight: ‘the

nature of nature is meta-


phorical…’ (To subject

the camera.) Just ‘the


couple of moments’?

When light is the







A Note on Title & Names




light. Polish









Lord, no! ‘The photographer’s super-

vision…’ (Art at least our own undo-


ing!) Barn, marsh swallows… (‘Harsh

reality’? War’s Great Escapism…) The


little we knew? Yes, pictures getting the

best of him! ‘Great photographers’? Act-


ual people! (‘Walter Benjamin’ an

object now?) ‘Developed world’ –


Keats’ negatives… ‘The

visibly,’ up-





War games, Poland to

         Siberia… (Otherfuckers.) ‘Canada,’ can-

                 did camera? ‘The valley through the

                          eye…’ Silent rhythms, light only ever

                                   quite possible. Dante developing




Art: you don’t say! (My life & death

partners?) Light & space, ‘immediate


family.’ Moving pictures (the dead king-

fisher): bees by truck, horizons by rail


… Theology, the outgrown body. The

eagle’s attention span. (Old-growth


moments.) Shorebard John

low sun, backwash





October Sea, marsh grass-

es. (The uncoloured mind?)

School, drilling for children

Faith, hope to  clarity.

(The many pre-





Tantramar grammar. (Solitary, Thompson

coupling…) The familiar estranger. (Whole


sail Art?) The eye’s rigging. ‘Eagle’ landing,

eggshell moon. (The naked mechanics.) Car


Rex. (Tarmac Adam?) Watching people, ser-

vice stations… (Light’s hinge.) The lines


of the vanished. Billions: Hollywood

Tutor… ‘Behind’ the picture? Blue


sky, brown horsepond. ‘Fed-

up’? The banqueting cam-





Irresistible? Pipeline

prose...  (Grids: the land

surveyed?) ‘Logging’ – 

PB2227… Golden heel

in the mud. The Name’s

many bones. (‘Modern

Art’: Monet in Hiros-

hima, The Bridge

After The Rain.)

Light, Blake




Walden, snow taking attendance. (2001: 600,000,

flock to a shadow!) Pond’s translations. O, volum-


inous! The unsplit screen? (Death (bark or ring?), the

moment time healed.) ‘Lichen beard,’ Merlin’s head


stone? (The Cloud over Versailles…) The page half

mast? (A touch of horizon.) The pencil harp. Grail,


the moon goes begging. (9/11, skyscapers…) Text,

God’s -ex! The run-thru life. To speak of Art in


Love’s Bower? ‘Working’ in the dark; the

discarded rhubarb dress… The unholy


human ghost. Salmon, carved

eye… People framing





Thought spawning rivers? (‘Countless

hours,’ unpacking photographs…) ‘Time’

for poetry? Coleridge inviting Donne… (To

begin what God finished.) To point the way

woods… Operating on the Theatre? (‘Yes,

scrub that!’) Sam: “John,

‘facts’ the bones of




Faust’s terminal flare. (The dead warblers’

society.) Birds (small fry), landscape paint-


ing… Belsen: wonder ceasing. (1919, statues

staring at the trees.) Pilgrimagery. Words, bit


coins? (‘Quick!’ Writing the ship…) Silence,

light on form. (Noh more?) Thoreau moved


by the heron. God all hands? (‘Harvesting’

the Great Mother.) ‘Listen!’ Reading


water… Every photo, ‘the entrance

to a courtyard’? Eggs: dark










Jung dreams








Selective Chronology



Headlit dyke-

lands. (Pond – 

tree studies…)

Ghost an-










‘My’ books: but no one

owns their brothers! ‘First

blush,’ the facts of light

‘Mary’s eyes,’ the











Sean Howard is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently The Photographer’s Last Picture (Gaspereau Press, 2016) and Ghost Estates (Gaspereau, 2918).  His poetry has been widely published in Canada and elsewhere and featured in The Best of the Best Canadian Poetry in English (Tightrope Books, 2017).