From May Sarton’s Well
Finalist – 1995 Benjamin Franklin Award
Like many other women, Connecticut photographer Edith Royce Schade first discovered the writing of May Sarton in the early seventies. Over the years, Sarton’s work greatly influenced Schade’s photography and her outlook on life. Soon after they first met in 1983 they developed a friendship. Later the idea for a book emerged: a combination of Schade’s striking black-and-white photographs and excerpts from Sarton’s eloquent poetry and prose. This beautiful gift book offers readers an extraordinary photographic “feast” and an opportunity to drink deeply From May Sarton’s Well.
Buy Book – $14.00
The material facts about this book: it has158 pages with 63 black & white photographs, 7″ x 9.25″, full color cover, acid-free paper .
May Sarton said of From May Sarton’s Well:
“Schade has composed a set of her impressive photographs to communicate the light and shadow of my view of life, and accompanies the photographs with a text culled from my works to communicate this vision. The book is a stunning addition to the Sarton canon. I am grateful.”
What some critics write about From May Sarton’s Well
“…a feast for mind and heart; Schade’s photos illuminate Sarton’s writing and are in turn enriched by Sarton’s words. … I can’t think of a better introduction to Sarton’s writing than this collection. …The photographs are stunning…a book to be treasured.” -Bay Area Reporter, California
“A beautiful book in every aspect…awe-inspiring photos and affirmations for us all.” -The Pilot, North Carolina
“…a delicious initial taste of Sarton’s work and will make newcomers want to drink more deeply from her well. …Schade’s photographs beautifully balance Sarton’s words and capture the essence of her work. …a worthy tribute and a joy to read.” -Small Press
“What an exquisite little book!” -Velma Daniels, News Chief, Florida
In putting together From May Sarton’s Well, Edith Royce Schade took on no routine task. Sarton had certain misgivings–should photographic images be juxtaposed to poetic ones? Schade says, “May taught me that poems are interpreted differently by each individual and should be presented on their own; photographs are appropriate accompaniment for prose.” Thus, this book is a collaboration, yet none of its three art forms–poetry, prose, photography–competes with or overwhelms its partners.
The choices Schade made from Sarton’s poetry and prose are ideal to the book’s purpose. Supported by Schade’s perceptive photographs, the Sarton prose passages are enriching reaffirmations; they spill over with wisdom born of Sarton’s unique, contemplative vision of life and of the natural world. She speaks of love and passionate love, knowing one does not necessarily mean the other. She tells us that winters are not the solid monsters they seem. Solitude, she reminds us, is not for everyone. Life after life, Sarton expresses her love for living things, the peace she derives from them.
The selected poems are choice. The seeming ease with which Sarton works in rhyme and meter results in poetry filled with singing: A Glass of Water in rhymed iambic pentameter– Hour of Proof brimming with humanity and dignity. And the elegant A Flower-Arranging Summer , a paean to garden textures, shapes, colors and fragrances. The free-verse entries trick us into thinking they are not free verse at all: Mourning to Do, vivid with glad pain, quiet epiphany; All Day I Was With Trees, about parting and consolation; the four-page Gestalt at Sixty, a life-song ringing with awareness and gratitude.
Of Schade’s camera work, Sarton said, “Schade has composed a set of her impressive photographs to communicate the light and shadow of my view of life . . . I am grateful.” Ultra-close shots are reminiscent of Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings. Woods-light on strands of fence wire. The long grass pathway leading to Sarton’s house. A solitary, pale, dark-stockinged horse steps out from the shelter of trees. An icy snow is everywhere, blotting out the line between ground and sky. It rests upon the horse, the scrambled branches of trees and scrub. One can almost smell the hard air.
Who cannot love the photo of a small, shiny white ceramic bottle bearing Japanese characters and containing two poppy blossoms and pod? Here, depth and delicacy take on all kinds of interchanging, seemingly contradictory roles. The closing album of Schade’s pictures of Sarton and her house, “Wild Knoll,” are a treasure–her entry gate, her bird-viewing chair, her cluttered desk, her garden, her beautiful, wonderful face.
Edith Royce Schade has shown us that Sarton’s beliefs can be caught in the blink of a shutter. May Sarton has shown us that light and shadow are no mere opposites. They are what takes place when we love the magic of words, love the world, one another and ourselves. Sarton died not long after the book was published. –June Owens