Writing the Picture is a rare collaboration between a leading photographer and an eminent poet. Even more rare, it is a collaboration in which the poet responds to images, rather than a photographer or artists ‘illustrating’ a poem. The book evolved from a previous assignment for The Independent in which Fuller agreed to write about Hurn’s pictures “as long as the ‘captions’ could be poetry”. The result was a group of startlingly good poems which drew upon and illuminated a selection of Hurn’s equally stunning images.
Writing the Picture extends that early success into a book of 50 duotone images and poems in which Hurn’s particular skill as a photographer of reportage sparks Fuller’s own skill as a writer who both draws out meaning and launches into the thought-provoking. The sheer variety of image and poem makes the book an all the more impressive achievement. From warm portraits of rural Wales to a drug addict shooting up, from a raucous hen night to a moving suite of images of the aftermath of the Aberfan disaster, photographer and poet respond to all aspects of life. The result is such a marvellous and magical meeting of artforms that it is surprising it doesn’t happen more frequently.
Hurn and Fuller provide an intriguing Introduction by way of a ‘conversation’ in which they discuss the processes of their collaboration and the differences and similarities which poetry and photography share in the creating of art.