Poems and Photos Tell a Story of Hope and Beauty at LeMoyne Arts Exhibit
Cynthia Rose discovered her first book of poetry at a garage sale with her late mother. She bought a tattered copy of Edgar Allan Poe’s Complete Works and began writing her own poetry around the age of 11.
Rose was already keeping a diary from an early age, thanks to a gift from her maternal grandmother. In just three months, she filled her padlocked pocket diary with observations, rhymes and images.
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Poetry has always been Rose’s refuge, no matter where her life has taken her. His latest poems are featured alongside photography and poetry by Stanley Johnson and Katie Clark in the “Focused Moments” exhibition at LeMoyne Arts through August 6.
“I lost my biological parents at a young age, and writing has allowed me to share my feelings without fear of judgment or ridicule,” Rose says. “It was a safe space. Poetry gave me a way to express and write in code, so to speak, so it wasn’t all there as open-heart surgery on the page. I could write about my feelings, whether happy or sad.
Arts and Journalism
Rose has always felt a natural affinity for the arts. As a teenager, she loved scrapbooking. Rose would cut out pictures of her favorite musical artists and handwrite their song lyrics to create her own magazine pages. As a student at Southern A&M University in Louisiana, she began submitting letters to the editor, cartoons, and poems to the school newspaper.
Although she was majoring in graphic design and acting at the time, Rose’s African-American literature professor urged her to join the paper as an editor. She eventually changed her degree and earned a bachelor’s degree in print journalism, working as the editor of the student newspaper “Southern Digest.” Rose went on to write for The Advocate daily before embarking on a 20-year career in public relations with the United States Department of Agriculture.
“My poems usually come to me, and I never know when I’m going to receive a download,” laughs Rose. “I would have these long car trips and these poems would come to me, so I could pull over on the side of the road and jot them down in a notebook. Now I can just say it in my phone.
Rose has received several awards during her career, including recognition for raising awareness among socially disadvantaged farmers in the Southeast, as well as advocating for 1890 university land grant scholarships and capacity building funds. .
First book a ‘scrapbook’
She published her first book, “Bloom Forever” after retiring from federal service. Rose had joined the Tallahassee Authors Network (TAN) and, with the support of her fellow writers, was motivated to publish. She collected two decades of poetry written and typed in notebooks, journals and post-it notes to create an album of her work.
“I didn’t want to take away from who I was when I was writing a poem, so I decided to treat them as a snapshot of who I was and what I was going through at the time,” Rose explains.
“There are errors, and you can see the evolution of technology in my poetry or how my writing has changed over the years. By presenting them as a diary, people can see how old I was, from about 18 in the first poem of the book, until my mid-40s They can follow me on this journey of life.
“Journey’s Light” was born during the pandemic
In 2020 Rose wrote her second book, “Journey’s Light – The Journey Is Light” in collaboration with photographer Johnson. The original idea for the book came to Rose while she was on tour promoting “Bloom Forever.”
While at the United States Department of Agriculture, Rose had taken photographs of rural and nature scenes, and had begun to create dazzling greeting cards with her photographs and words to sell alongside the books.
Rose decided she wanted to write a book that would feature both photography and poetry, but couldn’t find the time to sit down and write. Rose had performed in local plays and musicals and helped her friends with their various artistic endeavors when the world came to a standstill due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Suddenly there was plenty of time to bring “Journey’s Light – The Journey Is Light” to life.
“People need beauty and hope”
“These are really crazy times, and people need beauty and hope more than ever,” says Rose, who enjoyed putting the book together with Johnson. “It was only natural that we worked together and had a process of pairing photos with poems and affirmations. It was so much fun.”
Rose says the “Focused Moments” exhibit at LeMoyne Arts was yet another way to offer peace and quiet to others through poetry and photography.
Rose frequently hosts “Write to Heal” sessions that teach how to use poetry, journaling, and writing as tools for self-reflection.
In collaboration with Clark and Johnson, the exhibition showcases each artist’s definition of beauty through their respective mediums. The exhibit also reaffirms Rose’s beliefs in the healing properties of creative expression.
“We include photos of nature, water, sunrises, people, and unexpected twists on what we think is beautiful,” says Rose.
“I wish people knew that beauty is all around us. Sometimes we don’t see it because we’re so busy living our lives, but you can hear it, see it and feel it. It all comes about taking a moment to be present and that requires being still sometimes.
If you are going to
What: Focus Moments with Stanley Johnson, Cynthia Rose and Katie Clark
When: 11am-6pm, Tuesday to Saturday until August 6
Where: LeMoyne Arts, 125 N Gadsden St
Cost: Free for LeMoyne Arts members, $5 for non-members
Contact: For more information, visit lemoyne.org
Amanda Sieradzki is a feature writer for the Council for Culture and the Arts. COCA is the Capital Region’s umbrella agency for arts and culture (www.tallahasseearts.org).
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