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Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Self-Portrait as the Bootblack in Daguerre’s Boulevard du Temple by Robin Coste Lewis

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April 5, 2017
 

Self-Portrait as the Bootblack in Daguerre's Boulevard du Temple

 
Robin Coste Lewis
illustration

About This Poem

 

"In what is believed to be the earliest photograph that records the image of a person, (Daguerre's 'Boulevard du Temple,' 1838) the rich shadow of a bootblack kneels on a corner, bent over, shining a customer's shoe. Though the entire boulevard was very populated when Daguerre shot this canonical photograph, early photographic technology could not record all the city bustle because the camera was too slow—or were we, then, too fast? For me, this photograph has always been such a rich metaphor for the thin border between colonialism and modernism, or history and intimacy. A technical accident, a subservient subject was the only figure Daguerre could visually record, kneeling in the middle of the nineteenth century. And yet."
—Robin Coste Lewis

 

Robin Coste Lewis is the author of Voyage of the Sable Venus (Knopf, 2015), which won the 2015 National Book Award in poetry. She is a Provost's Fellow in poetry and visual studies at the University of Southern California.

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Poetry by Coste Lewis

 

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Poem-a-Day

 

Launched during National Poetry Month in 2006, Poem-a-Day features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends. If you enjoy Poem-a-Day, please consider making a donation to help make it possible.

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