Clark's exhibits,TWU Library exhibit of poets' photos, AZ exhibits & Interview Re: Visual Aspects

Posted May 22, 2005
Last Updated Jun 21, 2012
The TWU Library's Announcement of Clark's talk, and the opening of her exhibit, contained a Post Card-Sized Reproduction of her portrait of Louise Bogan, which is shown across from this text. The portrait was featured on one side of the card and the following information was printed on the other side:

Informal Portrait
Poet, Louise Bogan
(February 1967)

Texas Woman's University
The Woman's Collection
Box 425528
Denton, TX 76204-5528
940-898-3751

Contemporary American Poets of the 20th Century:
Informal Portraits by LaVerne Harrell Clark
Program by photographer & author, LaVerne Harrell Clark

Monday, September 22, 2003 7 p.m. Blagg Huey library
Denton, TX

Photos exhibited through November 2003
. . . . .

About others of Clark's One-Woman Shows & Exhibits of Her Portraits of Writers

During the 30 years Clark served as a photographer for the UA Poetry Center, there were several exhibits of her photos at the U. of AZ. Student Union and in the Galleries of the Modern Language Auditorium. Her portraits still line the walls, and are on display, at the Poetry Center itself, which as mentioned earlier, is now in the process of expanding into the new two-story building especially being constructed on campus to house it. In 1992, an exhibit of the Center's that included Clark's photographs traveled for a year to public libraries and colleges in places all over Arizona under the sponsorship of an NEH grant. For a number of years, while she still lived in Tucson, Clark also served, dating from their begining days, as a photographer for both the Tucson and Bisbee, AZ. Poetry Festivals. Both Festivals came about as a result of the establishment in 1960 of the UA Center on campus and of the series of Visting Writers it started, and has continuously brought to Tucson ever since.

Regarding the Background of the Visual Aspects of Clark's Creativity, the following excerpt from "An Interview with LaVerne Harrell Clark" by Christopher Woods is provided from CROSS TIMBERS REVIEW (Spring 1987, V.IV,#1,pp.8-9. Woods'credits appear at the end of the FOCUS 101 article):

CLARK (in the midst of answering Woods): "As a little child I liked stories....There were always older people around, talking about things. I spent a lot of time drawing pictures. Not like a comic book. But I would be sitting on the couch when people were talking, and I would constantly be sketching things. Some of those sketches related to one another. They were usually of people's faces. Not like a comic book as they were more complicated than that. I now look on those things as some of my earliest versions of stories.

And another thing. Some people take this business of astrology seriously. I wouldn't say that I do, but I don't discard it completely. I'm a Gemini. My birthday is June 6. I just celebrated one.

WOODS - Happy Birthday.

CLARK - Thank you. People say that Geminis are divided spirits. If that is true, there is always one side writing, but also one side visually recording something. I'd always done a lot of sketching, but [after I went to college], it turned into photography. I've [also] had a lot of battles with myself about stopping this photography because I felt it was holding up my short stories. If I had to choose, I would choose the writing. But the photography is always there.

One day I found myself stretched out across the bed, crying. I said, what on earth am I spending all this time for, with all these photographs. This was during the editing and photographing of my book, Focus 101. I really wanted to be a short story writer, and I was spending all my creative time on photographs. So I moaned and groaned to myself most of the afternoon. And then suddenly I remembered that little girl sitting over there on the couch, who used to sketch all the time while people were talking and a story going on. She had the visual side of that story.

I remember this kid in the sixth grade who took Texas history seriously. The teacher said to keep a notebook. This girl had illustrated Bowie, Fannin, Travis and the Alamo, just to illustrate her notebook. No one had said to do that. Or to say "Mom, we're going to have history tomorrow." And to recite my history book so that I [wouldn't] miss a word. I wanted to recite it so it became mine. And if I missed a word I had a fit.

The people, the region, the way it physically looked, as well as how it sounded, the music of the language, and at the same time the music I was making on the clarinet - all of it, in my own idiotic way, made sense to me. I saw that I had always been a divided spirit of the visual arts and the language. I decided that I have a dual personality.

WOODS - So you will always have that battle, but you have decided to do several things.

CLARK - It's a blessing [I have]....Of course,....I wish I had three lives. Or nine lives, so that I could get more of these things done, because they do take time. I have had to make a lot of choices in my photography. I've had to give up the darkroom, give up the development of my pictures. Just because of the time consumption. I'm getting pretty choosy now about every time I see something beautiful and want to stop and take a picture of, simply because our house is a walking museum. I don't know how I'm going to utilize all those photographs.
But I'm not knocking photography. I have given talks, at writers' conferences, on the relationships between the short story, the narrative form in non-fiction, poetry and photography. As far as I'm concerned, the short story is the most demanding literary form there is. But it bears a relationship with the photograph. It must all be said in a compressed way.

WOODS - You were born here, in Smithville, during the Depression. It was much more rural here at that time. You have described the Smithville of that time as a "Roy Rogers-picture-?show-Sat.afternoon sort of town." What are your feelings about returning here now, on a summer day in 1986?

CLARK -I'm glad to be back here. I like it a lot. I have always loved my home state. I have loved this region, this part of the state, in more of a physical way. The beauty of the region. I wasn't too happy with the intellectual opportunities in this town as a child. That had its share of disappointments, because you really didn't have a lot of opportunities, at least the kind I wanted. I'm still not very interested in Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. I'm sure a lot of folks are, but I didn't enjoy that, his availability at the picture show. But I guess that sort of upbringing had its lessons too. I've never been sorry that I left here and put a day's travel between myself and this place so that I could mature on my own in Denton. And I've never been sorry that I kept heading north and went to New York when I was barely twenty, and tackled the biggest city on earth.

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Clark & poet Jean Pumphreys

Bay Area poet Jean Pumphreys, shown with Clark after the latter's reading for the San Mateo (CA) College Poetry Center in 1979, was one of a number of poets in the exhibit that Clark has photographed since THE FACE OF POETRY'S publication. After Clark resigned from being director of the U. of AZ. Poetry Center in order to devote full-time to her own writings, she began a career of giving fiction readings like this one sponsored by the CA. Council on the Arts, a practice that she has continued ever since. Later she and Pumphreys, whom she met when they both appeared on the 1978 Dominican College Writers' Conference, have had several joint appearances together in the Bay Area in which Pumphreys read from her poetry and Clark, her fiction. Larry Jackson, publisher of THE FACE OF POETRY reprint, took the photo.

Grace Paley,Short story writer-poet

Short story writer-poet Grace Paley is another writer who was exhibited whom Clark has come to know after publishing the 2 volumes. She is pictured here, speaking to an AZ. Woman's Studies class in Jan. 1986. At the suggestion of their mutual friend, Dick Humphreys, (LaVerne's writing teacher at Columbia),Paley phoned LaVerne, asking her to take her to a Yaqui Indian Lenten ceremony during a visit she was making to Tucson. The event marked the first of several photo sessions for them at different times and as far west as Berkeley. Eventually it also led to Clark's writing her graduate MFA literature paper on her, "Grace Paley and the Oral Tradition." The piece first appeared in the Spring 2000 issue of WOMEN & LANGUAGE, & was then reprinted in V.20 of Thomson/ Gale's series SHORT STORIES FOR STUDENTS (2004).

Poet Louise Bogan

The TWU Library chose this portrait by Clark of Louise Bogan before the palm trees of the U. of AZ Student Union as the one they preferred for the card announcing Clark's exhibit of 20th Century Poets which lasted all of the fall semester of 2003 in the gallery off the main rotunda. The Clarks first met Bogan when L.D. and she were on the Columbia U. Summer Writers' Conference together. It took place just after his novel, THE DOVE TREE, appeared. Afterwards she and LaVerne enjoyed a sporadic correspondence. Bogan died before the anthology appeared, but the suggestion of the wind, moving the palm frawns behind her, reminded Clark of the line in the Sonnet of Bogan's she included in the book with the permission of her executor, Louise Limmer, who especially liked the picture.

Writer  Raymond Carver

The late Raymond Carver, short story writer-poet, was another of the authors in the exhibit, whom Clark also met following the anthology's publication. She knew him during his last years, dating from time he & Tess Gallagher lived in Tucson for a year or so. Her portrait shows him in July 1980 in front of a totem pole, typical of the Yakima region of WA--one of the places he associated himself with. It was made at a Centrum Writers' Conference while Clark was in his workshop on the short story. Other writers in the exhibit that Clark studied with later for her MFA at AZ included Angus Wilson, Francine Prose, Vance Bourjaily and Scott Momaday.