February 07, 2011

While ye may

Gather ye rose-buds while ye may

The first morning at Big Creative Writing Conference a young man came up to me and said, “I remember you!” I tried to look humble as I waited for him to comment on the brilliance of the talk I gave last year, although to be honest, I was feeling puzzled. That presentation was so unremarkable than I myself don’t remember what my point was. I searched my brain, trying to remember at least the title so that I could respond to him intelligently, but I needn’t have bothered.

“You’re the naked photo lady!” he said.

Yep. It seems I’ve gained a reputation.

I guess it could be worse. The woman with the purple scarf the last night of the conference who will forever be known as “the woman who vomited in the corner of the bar.” An editor told me that the only thing people remember about him is the fact that he mentioned fellatio in both his talks. In the conference swirl of books, words, and ideas, it seems that it’s the bodily experiences that we cling to.

A woman who posed naked for me a few years ago chimed into the conversation to say that it was a positive experience. “I loved all the comments your readers put on my photo,” she said. “They were so lovely and affirming. All these women writing and telling me that I’m beautiful.” My readers have become an important part of this project: thankfully, I have sensitive readers who chime in with appropriate comments and stories about their own bodies. I rarely have to delete a comment, even when I use a title like “Them Naked Women.”

I did wonder, as I was checking into my hotel room, if my roommate would be willing to strip off her clothes for the camera. She knew the tradition, but not everyone respects tradition the way I do. Creative writing folks tend to be all about breaking with tradition and doing crazy new stuff. And I hadn’t had time yet to catch up on what was going on in her life. Maybe she wasn’t in the mood to pose naked. There really is such a thing as the right time and place.

Then I stepped into the hotel room. The first thing I noticed was a dozen red roses, gathered in a vase by her bed.

“She’s in,” I thought.

(Readers who want to know the history of the naked photo tradition can check it out here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here. )

34 comments:

Tie-Dye Brother-in-law said...

Beautiful!

I hope there were no thorns... :-)

jo(e) said...

Tie-Dye Brother-in-law: I can assure you that no one was harmed in the taking of this photo.

Overeducated Twit said...

This may be my favorite yet. I think. Each one seems more lovely than the next, but I like the drama provided by the red.

susan said...

So beautiful!

I'd have thought they would remember you as the person who had to borrow clothes all through the last conference! But being known for this amazing series of photos is a great thing, too.

Magpie said...

This brought a smile to my Monday morning.

I love the starburst pattern in the sheet wrinkles.

Barbara said...

These pictures are always so beautiful.

If you ever come to London I will pose for you. I'd love to be part of your tradition, and I think there are few people that could take a picture of me naked that I'd be happy with.

Bardiac said...

Beautiful in so many ways.

I love the dark maroon of the background, too. You evidently chose your room well!

Leslie F. Miller said...

Crap. You were at AWP, weren't you. I should've made a plan to meet you.

jo(e) said...

Susan: Ah, this was a different conference.

Barbara: Next time I'm in London, I'll definitely take your photo.

Leslie: WERE YOU AT AWP? Damn. I would have loved to meet you.

Cindy said...

Lovely. I like everything about this pic.

YourFireAnt said...

Lovely ! I recognize that redhead. ;-)


T.

Anonymous said...

Love the cascade of roses. And such a beautiful model!

Sarah Sometimes said...

This is breathtaking.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

SUPER! THIS IS A BEAUT!!!!! Great one! How fun!

I bet you couldn't manage to make fogies like K or I look good! LOL!!!

jo(e) said...

Mary: I think, actually, it's easier to take photos of older people. They've usually got all kinds of interesting textures and marks -- scars, tattoos, wrinkles.

Many women have told me that they get more comfortable with their bodies as they get older. I've found that the older the person, the far more likely they are to pose naked for me.

Songbird said...

Gorgeous!

liz said...

Like I said Saturday, that is truly a beautiful photo.

Amelie said...

Beautiful picture. And I love your tradition.

Ianqui said...

These pictures are always lovely and well-composed, but I have to say, I think the roses are a particularly nice touch. Bravo.

Sandy said...

I like that you can see the outline of her body shadowed on the glossy wood behind her. Beautiful.

JFoster said...

There is such a humble composure to the shot--the roses, the fall of the head and hair, the convergence of the wrinkles in the sheets, the haphazard holding of the roses--that really just inspires awe. Beautiful work.

Anonymous said...

I love this project! It's important that we see the beauty in the human body. All human bodies.

DL

UsedtoBlog said...

I like that we readers are part of the project.

susanmtk said...

lovely, and romantic too

Anonymous said...

She is seriously gorgeous. This might be the best photo you've taken yet.

The falling roses accent the classic pose.

clara said...

The cascade of hair is breathtaking.Hmm, the knees, too. Your roommates are the luckiest.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

Beautiful.

Sue said...

This is so very beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I just got the reference to the Robert Herrick poem. Nice.

T.

Anonymous said...

Too bad about the roses.....

What Now? said...

What a lovely photo!

Amber said...

Stunning! I love the picture, just beautiful! And I always love your writing about these, so tender and funny.

How does one go about being your roommate? Next year's conference might be a go for me :-)

julieunplugged said...

Beautiful! I love the white skin. Pearly and even. Ahhhh.

Zhoen said...

This is just a perfectly lovely photo of a perfectly lovely woman.