My guests today are Carol and Arnie Kanter. Welcome to OpEdNews. Recently, you published a beautiful book called No Secret Where Elephants Walk . Can you tell our readers a little about how the book came into being?
Copyright 2011, Arnie Kanter
Arnie: Carol and I were fortunate to be able to take three trips to Africa over a period of about six years. On each trip, Carol took notes for poems and I took photographs. After the trips, we worked independently on our poems and photographs. A good friend, Marilyn Susman, who was familiar with both Carol's poetry and my photography suggested that we put them together in a book, and that idea became No Secret Where Elephants Walk.
Carol: Arnie's response gives the impression that I took lots of notes on these trips. In fact, I started out on our first trip intending to do so. That lasted not quite one day. I quickly saw that I would be spending way too much time looking down at my notepad and would virtually miss much of the experience the trip offered. I did take video and occasionally I would scratch down a note or two, especially at the end of the day, figuring that I might write a poem or two once we returned home. I was shocked to find that when I later sat down at my computer, first drafts of poems seemed to pour out.
When we decided to try to put a book together, it was something of a surprise how well we could match up the poems and the photos, even if we each had different "takes" on what we saw. Of course, maybe we shouldn't have been so surprised: We were, after all, on the same trip.
Carol and friend Copyright 2011, Arnie Kanter
I love the image of you sitting at the computer, Carol, and the words and images just flowing onto the screen. Have you always written your poetry on the computer or did you originally start out with those yellow legal pads? I found it incredibly difficult to abandon my low-tech way of writing; in fact, I wasn't convinced that anything would "happen" without pen and paper. Was it hard for you to make that transition?
Carol: Well, I didn't begin writing poetry until around 1995. And though most folks were probably already hip-deep into the computer age, not me. So, yes, I started with pen and paper--and (don't tell anyone) sometimes still do. For a brief while, I couldn't imagine giving up that tactile part of composing. But re-re-re-revising is such a drag, longhand. So, mostly I've made the iffy transition.
Let's talk about the book some more, if you don't mind. Both of you were used to operating solo, correct? So, was there some initial trepidation about trying to put your individual efforts together? Were either of you worried about giving over ownership or other issues?
Carol: Great question. Correct that we were used to operating solo. And we contemplated that the project could go one of two ways: Either it could be good fun. Or it could lead to the end of a 45-year-old marriage. I think the relationship was preserved because it was VERY clear who had ownership of which part. Of course, when it came time to write the intro to the book, that took us about 106 drafts.
Arnie: Carol's answer suggests that neither of us had input into the other's work. That's not right. I commented on Carol's poems and she on my photos. Changes were made by both of us based on those comments, though it is true that the ultimate decision on poetry was always Carol's and on photography, mine. I think the intro only took 104 drafts, but I could be wrong.
Well, now that we've straightened that out, where did the idea of Africa come from? Did you know that one trip would lead to another? How did you decide where to go and with whom?
Arnie [on right]
Arnie: Africa was always a dream trip for us. After going to the Galapagos, though, we decided, okay, it's time to go to Africa now. We figured that our first trip would be our one and only. It was, in fact, our one and only, until we went back two years later. And then, again, four years after that. There's a magic there, and I'd be surprised if we don't go back again. The only thing militating against that possibility is that there are so many places to see that, ordinarily, we don't go back. There are exceptions, though. We're going back to Ghana this September, after having been there last year. And I've been back to Bhutan, and may possibly go again this year.
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