104 pp., 2013
Not mind, not sand, not water.
Sand Mirrors is a marriage of poetry by Zen teacher Richard Clarke and photographs by Stephen Strom. The poems beckon the reader to explore the inner and outer richness of sand and ocean—richness beyond all imagination and dream. It speaks to fleeting and timeless patterns on Northern California and Oregon coasts, and through understated but powerful words, reminds us that all our life is now, and has nothing to do with transience or duration.
The images in Sand Mirrors—which might be called metaphorical photographs—were taken on a variety of beaches located in the Pacific Northwest coasts during 2007-2011. These beaches are notable for their relative isolation, expanse, stark uplifted and eroded rocks, backdrop of richly foliated coastal cliffs, and a variety of sandy minerals.
This compelling landscape was born in a cataclysmic collision of continental plates and vigorous vulcanism, and shaped over millennia by continuing tectonic activity, and the erosive power of the Pacific Ocean. Fresh water streams flow through many of these beaches, carrying silt and minerals seaward from the nearby coastal range. It is the merging of ocean sands and finely ground minerals at the interface of fresh water and ocean tides that creates patterns that evoke the seen and unseen rhythms of an ever-changing landscape, reshaped by wind, tide, and the pulse of the earth itself.
Together, the poems and images aspire to invite viewers to “quiet wonder at these few inches of sand that proclaim perfection” and to remind them in the words of Lao Tzu “to the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders.”
In the hands of the ocean, a constant transformation on the canvas of the beach. This place of shifting, where Strom’s images take us, is at once subtle and sensual, mysterious and mystical. Clark’s elegant poems compliment the images with graceful harmony and further elucidate the shifting nature of sand and water. The poetry and images in Sand Mirrors invite us to experience a meditation that lingers long and gently on the spirit.
— Laura Tohe
As my Zen Teacher and confidante of three decades, Richard Clarke patiently points to a realm beyond all arbitrary dividing lines of mind and heart. May his poetry herein—and the images they illuminate—be a window to this shining, ever-present world of “just this.”
— Sensei Paul Gerstein
Stephen Strom, by Aline Smithson
Lesnscratch, December 16, 2012
Sand Mirrors: Photographs by Stephen E. Strom + Poems by Richard B. Clarke
Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments, October 12, 2012
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