Posted by: John Looker | 21 February, 2015

Photography – the poem



So, may we call it Art?
Well yes, at times,
especially when the camera

is borrowed by the Muse
to bring us beauty,
present a new perspective;

when it’s flourished like a brush
to catch our breath with colour,
transfix with light and shade;

thrust as a key, unlocking
the doors of prison cells,
drawers inside the mind;

when it puzzles,
ravelling common sights
into thick conundrums;

when it vaults over chasms,
hacks a pathway through forest,
saddles a steer;

soothes the nerves,
sponges the brow,


© John Looker 2015

This poem first appeared here four years ago. I reprint it today with a dedication to Terry Ownby, photographer, writer, educator and photo-media professor at a research university. It was his photograph that was used by Bennison Books on the cover of The Human Hive, my work of poetry published recently:


The original photo shows a much wider landscape. The scene is sublime, but also has human interest. To see Terry Ownby’s photograph properly, and for the story behind the picture, follow this link to his own website: 

And for Bennison Books, with articles and news of their other publications, the website is: 

John Looker



  1. A gorgeous poem simply for itself but a great tribute to your photographer friend. I am still enjoying your book 😊


    • Thank you Christine. Terry Ownby is not, as it happens, a friend but someone who generously gave consent for his photograph to be used after Bennison Books came across it through the internet. A very friendly act.


  2. Nice poem and dedication John


  3. Every now and then while reading my copy of The Human Hive, I close the book and turn between the front and back cover photo, and immerse myself in daydreams and recollections of my recent trip through South Australia. The ranges and vegetation are very reminiscent of a good stretch of the landscape I encountered there.

    The beehives remind me of the coloured milk crates that I’ve used to cart my books and LPs between new homes over the years, leading to me imagining one day having all those crates stacked in the mobile home that I dream of living and working from while traveling the length and breadth of Australia.

    If I ever make that dream a reality, I’d like to stack all my crates of books in a wheat field beneath the Mount Lofty Ranges (or perhaps the red soils of the Gawler Ranges, etc) and photograph my interpretive dedication to both you and Terry Ownby for the thorough enjoyment I’m receiving from The Human Hive. Naturally, I’ll stack the books back in my home and continue on to the next town that has work available!


    • That’s really interesting to hear Brad. I’m following the photographic and literary account of your recent travels in Australia on your blog, so I can see that landscape.

      Incidentally, I’ve promised to give the net receipts from the sale of my book to a charity I’m involved in for children with speech and language impairment.


  4. John, over the past years we have read each others poetry and exchanged comments, I do not think I have been held more captive than by this poem. An hommage to Terry Ownby, but truly the finest example of your talent with words, impressions, and content expression. I have read this poem several times savoring nuances in the words you have written, Thanks for sharing a great work and making my morning.


    • That’s really kind of you, Don – thanks! I’m glad you find it a fitting homage to Terry Ownby’s work.


  5. […] poet, John Looker‘s collection titled “The Human Hive”. Here’s a link to a poem he dedicated to […]


  6. nicely put, John!


    • It’s equally true of your photography Sheila. You have a distinctive style, and I’m a constant fan.


  7. I love the image of the camera being possessed by the muse and “flourished like a brush”. Such a grand extravagant gesture!


    • It’s nice to see you here Kalila. Thank you.


  8. really wonderful, John! in the right hands, it’s definitely an artist’s tool 🙂


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