Soul of a Camera
Eye of a Poet
More than a year ago, John Matt Dorn began sending Judith Valente photographs he had taken in his Hyde Park neighborhood and across the country. Valente had been working on a series of poems that sought to uncover the sacred in the ordinary, the transcendent in the everyday. She found in Dorn’s photographs mirror images, soul mates, for her poems. It was as if unconsciously her poems and his photographs had been seeking each other all along.
The best poems create images in our minds that inspire and thrill us. Similarly, all good photographs tell a story that is often missed without careful attention. Poetry offers us a respite from the tired, the trivial and trite. Photographs remind us there is no such thing as the mundane.
An exhibit brought together Dorn’s photographs and Valente’s poems for the first time. Viewed side by side, they are reminders that even in a time of division and violence, we still live in a world of beauty, grace, and light.
JUDITH VALENTE is an on-air correspondent for “Religion & Ethics NewsWeekly” on PBS-TV. Her reports also appear on National Public Radio and Chicago Public Radio. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, “Inventing An Alphabet,” selected by Mary Oliver for the 2004 Aldrich Poetry Prize.
She is also co-editor with Charles Reynard of “Twenty Poems to Nourish Your Soul” (Loyola Press, 2005), an anthology of poems and essays on finding the sacred in the everyday. She worked previously for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and People magazine. She lives in Chicago and Normal, IL.
JOHN MATT DORN is a photographer and practicing psychiatrist who holds a Masters in Divinity from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He is the author of the poetry collection Prognosis:Fair (Colonial Press, 1993).
His poetry has appeared in RHINO magazine and his photographs will appear in an upcoming issue of TriQuarterly, the literary magazine of Northwestern University. He is the former psychiatric consultant to the Illinois State Prison in Dixon. He currently resides in Maine, where he has a private practice in psychiatry.