NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

May 9, 2013

Ipswich photographer's book features her mom's poetry

In her poem “For My Daughters,” Dorothy Kerper compared happiness to a fragile butterfly.

“Be still and let it come to rest,” the poem advises. “Drink deeply of its beauty then / But be most careful when you touch / Its iridescent wings.”

Kerper studied poetry at Vassar College, where she graduated in 1917, then taught English at St. Mary’s School in Concord, N.H.

Kerper’s daughter, Dorothy Kerper Monnelly of Ipswich, was 8 years old when her mother died of breast cancer at age 50, in 1945.

She held on to a volume of her mother’s poetry that her father had printed privately and later found more poems that were stored in boxes.

Several years ago, Kerper Monnelly, a photographer whom naturalist Edward O. Wilson has called “the Ansel Adams of the wetlands,” started pairing her photographs of natural scenes and objects with her mother’s poems.

They were recently published in a collection that borrows its title from “For My Daughters,” which appears in the book beside “Snow-Covered Beech Tree,” a photograph taken in Ipswich in 2008.

The result is a conversation between two forms of art and across generations, between mother and daughter.

“I tried to select poems that had a visual component I could work with,” Kerper Monnelly said. “I chose my favorite poems, the ones I loved the most, and started looking for matches.”

Before publishing “For My Daughters,” Kerper Monnelly shared the project with members of n+1, a photo critique group in Cambridge.

“The first time I tried putting up poems and photographs together, they were a group of very passionate entries,” she said. “They liked the pairings, and that got me going.”

Kerper Monnelly’s work has focused on different landscapes over the years, from Hawaiian lava fields to deserts to the Great Salt Marsh in Ipswich.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Special Features
AP Video
Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case
Special Features