Seaspray17: Ocean Photography & Haiku Poetry – Review

Seaspray 17: Ocean photography and Haiku Poetry, (2019) Poetry by Dannika Patterson and photography by Kian Bates. (Morningstar Books, Capalaba) ISBN 9780648577805, 38 pages, landscape, RRP $30.00

Looking for something to dive into this weekend, to just take your mind off the current state of the world, and imagine, transform and connect with nature, then Seaspray 17 may be just your thing.  First, I want to share a little about its two creators, Dannika Patterson and Kian Bates.

Dannika Patterson

Dannika Patterson, the poet is an author, copywriter and marketing consultant, who in the last few years has published five books for children with two of these celebrating a love of nature, outdoor play, and imagination, Jacaranda Magic (2018) and Scribbly Gum Secrets (2020).

In 2019, she collaborated to create a coffee table, photography and Haiku poetry book, Seaspray 17: Ocean photography with Haiku Poetry, with Kian Bates, a photographer from New South Wales with a passion for the ocean. Kian co-owns Raw Edge photography and takes workshops where he teaches others photography.

Kian Bates at Work

Seaspray 17 whilst still as suitable for children as other Patterson works, due to the playfulness and beauty of some of the images, and language,  appeals more broadly to people of any age concerned with the passing of time and the protection of the environment. Photographs are commonly used for non-fiction works for children, but this is not a straightforward non-fiction book dealing with the ocean, but rather a series of artistic photographs capturing the imagination and artistry that is the ocean.

Haiku is an astute marketing choice, because it is commonly studied in school, however it is still a highly relevant choice because this ancient Japanese poetry form often features epiphanies for existence, time, and connection in nature and ensures that Patterson’s ongoing interest and love of nature is expressed in a form that is renowned and well suited to that purpose.

The overall approach of the book is more akin to Haiga, where image and text work together, although traditionally this would have been through ink and watercolour and in this work it is through artistic photography. This adds to the attractiveness of the collection, because the photographs and text elevate each other, and intertwine to make new meanings.

Four of the haiku that I particularly enjoy are ‘Mr Greenback,’ for its direct informal first creature address of the turtle to us the reader asking for us to change our ways for the turtle . . .

Copyright Raw Edge photography and Dannika Patterson, used with their permissionGreen-Back-logo

. . . ‘Mermaid Musings’ for its imaginative quality of the in-between spaces both physically, emotionally and spiritually and ‘With You’ and ‘Your Lead’ a dramatic double spread black and white of a mum and calf,  accompanied by one haiku from the perspective of the mum, and the other the perspective of the calf.  It is just stunning.

89968742_628802481014438_3870698404887658496_nMum-&-Calf-Fine-Art

Copyright Raw Edge photography and Dannika Patterson, used with their permission

There are several haiku that play with the sense of time, and the capturing of a moment in time that will soon be gone. Of these my favourite would be ‘Roar’, where the photograph and words match beautifully and playfully.  I’ll leave you a bit of mystery with this one, and encourage you to purchase the book to see why.

For language, the playfulness of ‘Dive Jive’ is pleasing to the ear.

Shake, rattle and roll
jiving, alive and thriving
rock on, reef, rock on
(The Dive Jive, by Dannika Patterson)

Bates’s photographic imagery, is often focused on the wave, as well as what is within it, which gives the book a universal applicability to anyone living by and interacting with the sea.  Those familiar with Australia’s  NSW coastlines might identify specific Australian coastal geography like in ‘Freeze Frame.’ Small titles to the photographs add another layer into the meaning the reader can take away.  For example one poem, ‘Wild and Free’ the title of the image is ‘triceratops.’

‘Triceratops’, Copyright Raw Edge photography, Copyright Raw Edge photography and Dannika Patterson, used with their permission

Most of these poems work best alongside the images, as they use the economy of expression that a skilled writer for children is often adept at, leaving space to the image to communicate and expand upon the words. The works within Seaspray17 invite the reader to engage not only with the ocean and its creatures but time itself.

Bates and Patterson convey that the ocean needs to be more than a source of a muse, it’s something we can fiercely protect as a mother would a child, or a lion would its pride.

The imagery, photographic and verbal, is gentle, playful, fantastical and, full of light and quiet optimism that the reader will choose to become a guardian of nature.

**

Teacher’s notes are available for this book and many of the images as well as the book can be purchased from Raw Edge photography.

You can purchase from the Raw Edge Website

And also from Dannika Patterson’s site

5 thoughts on “Seaspray17: Ocean Photography & Haiku Poetry – Review

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