OpticNerve-cover-650x903From Molly Peacock’s Prologue: In Optic Nerve Janet Sternburg exquisitely balances both the line and the image in two different arts — the poetic and the visual line, and the visual and the poetic image. Because she is one of those rare individuals in the contemporary arts who is equally talented both as a photographer and as a poet, Sternburg can vividly integrate text and image, daring to fuse photography and poetry into a single art genre. Marianne Moore, in her poem, “The Mind Is an Enchanting Thing,” describes the mind as being “like Gieseking playing Scarlatti,” referring to the hallmark of the pianist’s gift: he struck each note with equal weight, each finger of his hand exerting the same pressure. Janet Sternburg’s double art shares this idea of equal weight. Her photopoems open up new ideas of metaphor, redefining both poetry and photography with a sense of interplay that can only come with equally weighted ability ….. Janet Sternburg dares to challenge the idea of poetic vision, literally bringing the vision of the poet into active play, creating visions inside the text, not as illustrations but as photographs that are part of the body of the poems.”

Praise for Optic Nerve

“These are brave and intimate poems etched with breathtaking constraint in a calibrated free-fall through the separate terrains of explicit meaning, metaphor and photography with impeccable timing.” Trisha Brown

Janet Sternburg’s are indeed lyrics of “optic nerve” as well as of poetic tact and verbal finesse. These carefully wrought poems are the perfect analogues to Sternburg’s superb photographs: they are spare and direct yet oddly mysterious, and their everyday language is charged with emotion, energy, and good humor. Whether practicing ekphrasis, as in “Natura Morta” or reanimating the love lyric and memory poem, Sternburg maintains an exquisite poise. This is, in the true sense of the term, a lovely book.” Marjorie Perloff