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Volume 24, Number 9 — September 2017

Poetry & nature inspire Stoner's new book

By Leslie Grace | A! Magazine for the Arts | November 30, 2016

Photographer Jeffrey Stoner is inspired by nature, and his goal is to share that experience with others through his images.

"For instance, last week I made an image on a trail in the mountain high above Rocky Fork, Tennessee. The color of the fall leaves was amazing. There was a gentle breeze I could feel on my face and arms. The aroma of autumn was in the air, and the leaves crunched as I walked down the trail. Though I can only capture with the camera what can be seen, I try to make an image that captures the entire experience and brings the viewer onto the trail with me," he says.

Stoner speaks poetically about his images, which is fitting for his new book, "Natural History." The book is a collaboration with K.S. Hardy, a poet. This is his second book with Christine Cote of Shanti Art Publishing. His first was "Current: Essays on the Passing of Time in the Woods."

"'Current' was a great experience, so when she contacted me to see if I would be interested in providing the images for a book of poetry, I told her I would like to take a look at the poems.

"I don't usually read poetry, so I wasn't sure what to expect. When they arrived in the mail, I started on page one and simply couldn't put them down. In a few lines, he is able to bring you into the scene and share his experiences with him. I was very excited about the prospect of illustrating his poems," Stoner says.

He began by reading all the poems several times to get a feel for them individually and as a whole.

"With some poems an image I had previously made immediately came to mind. For others, I visualized the type of image needed and then worked on making that image," Stoner says. "The first thing I did was illustrate 11 poems to make sure both K. S. Hardy and Christine were happy with the direction I was taking. They both liked what I came up with, so from there it was full steam ahead."

The book is about 25 percent new images taken just for the book, and many of the other images have never been seen before. Some poems are illustrated with a combination of two images. The illustration for "The Wolf and the Buffalo" is an image of a buffalo made in Yellowstone combined with a wolf from Bays Mountain.

Stoner chose most of the photos alone, but the poet and the publisher had input on several poems. "There were several poems that I gave them two from which to choose. With the images that illustrate the seasons, I gave them quite a few options for each season."

He is also illustrating a book called "Trails of Tennessee" with author and singer/songwriter Lynne Drysdale Patterson of Nashville, Tennessee. The book will be published by the University of Tennessee Press and released in late 2017 or early 2018. It contains a chapter for each of the State of Tennessee's historic sites. Stoner is providing the images for each site, and Patterson is writing a short history of the sites as well as creating recipes for meals that would have been prepared at that time and place.

"Natural History" is available from Shanti Arts (www.shantiarts.co). Signed copies are available on Stoner's website (www.JeffreyStonerPhotography.com) and can be purchased at Art in the Heart Gallery in Kingsport, Tennessee, and ArtCurious Gallery in Johnson City, Tennessee.

About the poet:
K. S. Hardy decided to become a poet and writer at the age of 15. His work has been widely published in literary journals and anthologies worldwide. A committed observer of nature, "Natural History" is Hardy's first published collection of poetry and is the result of years of attentive living in his native Ohio. Hardy reports that a pheasant once walked up to his dining room window, but upon invitation, refused to come in.

About the photographer:
Jeffrey Stoner is primarily self-taught. He began taking photographs when he was 10. After a career in the assisted living/long-term care industry, he had his first show in 2004 and began to sell his fine art photographs. Three years later, he quit his job and moved to Kingsport to follow his dream. The move gave him the opportunity to photograph in the beautiful mile high mountains and fertile valleys of Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. Hiking the mountain trails also led to his annual images for his Goats of Roan and Wild Ponies of Grayson series.

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