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The Room In Which I Work
Andrew Seguin

The Omnidawn Open

2017 • 96 pp. 6 x 9"
Poetry / Poetry - American

$17.95 Paperback, 978-1-63243-035-9

“Evoking the life of Nicéphore Niépce, a pioneer of photography, Seguin explores how photography has provided lasting metaphors for how we think, write, and talk about what we see.”—Publishers Weekly

Selected by Calvin Bedient as winner of the Omnidawn Open

Evoking the life of Nicéphore Niépce, one of the pioneers of photography, The Room In Which I Work explores how the invention of the medium was also an invention of language. At once biographical and personal, factual and fictional, Seguin’s debut collection not only provides a unique look at Niépce’s life, but investigates how photography has provided lasting metaphors for how we think, write, and talk about what we see. Combining original photographs with poems that range through history, chemistry, collage, dialogue, and lyric, The Room In Which I Work is a singular meditation on language and image.

Click here for TABLE OF CONTENTS

Reviews / Endorsements

“Andrew Seguin has exposed the key elements of photography—light and time—and deftly captured their intersection with poetry. He frames his words with captivating original photographs that harken back to the inception of the medium and one of its inventors. This is a stunning and beautifully sequenced work that will appeal to lovers of words and pictures alike.”—Dan Leers, Curator of Photography, Carnegie Museum of Art

“Andrew Seguin’s The Room in Which I Work is a remarkably well-executed lyric meditation on the histories, the mechanics, and the poetics of photography, from Niépce’s early experiments with “enabling, or allowing, an image…to paint itself on metal inside a camera obscura” up to the poet’s own flâneur-like wanderings through space and time: “I carry a camera, which is to say I carry a question: what should I photograph?” While many of the poems approximate Niépce’s aim to “copy Nature with the greatest fidelity,” throughout the book Seguin hints at the limits of the photographic medium, often by surpassing them in flashes of pure poetic vision: “the rainbow felt forged / by gods playing horseshoes”; “Off went the crow who had ended // the sentence of the power lines.” Lucid, personal, intelligent, moving, formally astute and supplemented with Seguin’s hauntingly playful cyanotypes, The Room in Which I Work is like no other recent book I can think of, and among the most sophisticated and mature debuts in years.”—Timothy Donnelly, author of The Cloud Corporation

“As a whole, Andrew Seguin’s The Room in Which I Work, is not only an essential historical account of the development of photography but also provides a generous and significant portrait of photography’s astounding inventor.”
—Sonja James,
Journal News

“In this continually beautiful series of poems, Andrew Seguin possesses and is possessed by Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, the maker of the first photograph - a “heliograph” blur-shot of his own dovecote in 1826. Seguin brings Niépce forward in ceaselessly absorbing cinematic close ups with partly researched and partly imagined and altogether wonderful authority. How rare these days: a whole book brilliant without pretention, reconciling mundanity with the most refined observations, and deeply immersed in utter sympathy and respect for another human being.”—Calvin Bedient, judge of the Omnidawn Open

From the Book:

Authority loves fixed points, so it is commonly written that the birth of photography occurred in 1839. It is in January of that year that Louis Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, a Parisian painter and set designer noted for his Diorama — a theater in which large painted tableaux reveal illusions and change color and atmosphere through the manipulation of light — first displays to the French Académie des Sciences his daguerréotype, a photographic process that produces a positive image of uncanny clarity on a mirrored, metal surface. After learning of Daguerre’s announcement, William Henry Fox Talbot, an Englishman who, since 1834, has been conducting photographic research and trying to record images from a camera obscura, hastens to show to the Royal Society his own process, which he calls “photogenic drawing,” and from which he will later develop both negative and positive images. But the principles of photography — light’s behavior when passing through an aperture, the photosensitivity of certain chemicals, the need to arrest that sensitivity — had been known since the early 18th century. By 1839 an uncertain number of photographic images had already been made. In the 1790s, Thomas Wedgwood, son of the English ceramicist Josiah Wedgwood, uses silver to make several photograms which, being unfixed, fade back into darkness, and occasionally surface as rumors in the present tense. And by 1833, Nicéphore Niépce, who was once Daguerre’s partner, is dead. It is Niépce who, in 1826 or 1827, takes what is considered to be the first known photograph from nature, through a method he calls heliographie. To be clear: he inserts a light-sensitized pewter plate inside a modified camera obscura, points it out a window of his home, and makes a photograph of the surrounding roofs and a distant pear tree.

ANDREW SEGUIN is a poet and photographer. He is the author of two chapbooks, Black Anecdote and NN, and his poems have appeared widely in literary journals, including A Public Space, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, and Iowa Review. His work has been supported by the Fulbright Program, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and Poets House. Andrew lives in New York City.

Mon, 18 Jun 2018 12:41:31 -0500