Daily News header

Poet-Photographer Conjures a Ghostly New York Rail Line of The Past

By  

Gerard Malanga's Ghostly Berms

One of the chief glories of art is that it gives us new ways to see things. It's always the enemy of the received idea, the complacent notion. Art reveals what is hidden in plain sight. It makes us look twice, think twice. For this reason, anamorphosis and trompe-l'oeil play important roles in art. They tell us that things are not always as they seem, a truth we have yet to integrate into our political ideas.

Gerard-Malanga is a renowned photographer and poet. He adheres to an array of film rather than digital cameras, and he frames and shoots with the patience and love of a poet listening to his muse. He sees what most eyes glance over, he arrests the iterations of past lives on our faces, and the ghosts of past endeavors. And in this latter project he has given us Ghostly Berms, an ongoing capturing of the remnants of the Harlem Line, a rail line that used to run between Grand Central Station in Manhattan and Chatham in Columbia County just south of Albany.

Gerard-Malanga-460-300x220Gerard Malanga

Malanga traveled on that line as a young man. As he takes these fey black and white images he remembers the illuminated cars, the talk, the cigarette smoke, the conductor's calls, rattling along the now ghostly berms.

The rotting ties and trestles, the rusting overpasses, the stone and cement abutments are hardly noticeable now. Bullbriar encroaches them and trees struck by lightning break over them. The steel tracks have been lifted for scrap. But the berms remain like sutures.

Malanga's photographs, exhibited in Hillsdale, just outside Hudson, New York, call on us to think of the many lives that rumbled along those berms, the buildings they saw, the many dramas being played out in their beings. It's unlikely they imagined what Malanga would see forty years later. Many of them have gone the way of the tracks. The force of Malanga's collection-it's still being composed-is that in its entirety it constitutes a kind of alembic in which our own impressions are mixed with his and with those of the ghostly passengers. It is a kind of alchemical operation in which we ourselves are elements of the whole. The elixir, of course, is Malanga's eye, or rather the sensibility of that eye. The eye is, after all, a protrusion of the brain.

The valleys of New York are palpably haunted. Malanga has turned one of the most common lingerings of a past time and made it part of our consciousness. Technically, what he has done is a considerable feat. Any good photographer will tell you that shooting brambles, gravel, bare second-growth trees and subtle scars of the earth is not an easy task. The scenery wants to become a kind of gray putty, it wants in fact to disappear, and Malanga has had to cajole it from its hidden sleep.

Djelloul Marbrook

Djelloul Marbrook's first book, Far from Algiers (Kent State University Press, 2008) won the 2007 Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize and the 2010 International Book Award in poetry. "Artists' Hill," an excerpt from his unpublished novel, Crowds of One, won the 2008 Literal Latté first prize in fiction. Artemisia's Wolf, a novella, was published by Prakash Books of India early in 2011. Alice Miller's Room, a novella, was published in 1999 by OnlineOriginals.com (UK) as an e-book, and Bliss Plot Press of Woodstock, NY, recently published his novella, Saraceno, as an e-book. Orbis (UK), Smashwords.com, Potomac Review (Maryland) and Prima Materia (New York). His second book of poems is Brushstrokes and Glances (Deerbrook Editions, 2010). Recent poems were published by American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Oberon, Meadowland Review, The Same, Reed, The Ledge, Poemeleon, Poets Against War, Fledgling Rag, Daylight Burglary, Le Zaporogue, Atticus, Long Island Quarterly, ReDactions, Istanbul Literary Review, Arabesques Literary and Cultural Review, Damazine, Perpetuum Mobile, Attic, and Chronogram. A retired newspaper editor and Navy veteran, he lives in Germantown, NY, with his wife Marilyn, and has lifelong ties to Woodstock.

  Please leave a comment here     If it does not display within 10 seconds, please refresh the page

* The views of Opinion writers do not necessarily reflect the views of NewsBlaze

Related Opinions News

We are not the friends of Israel. We are the Sons of Israel and the land of Israel and the Sons of Israel are ONE. When Helen Thomas and others tell Israeli-Jews go back home what do they mean?
Shobha Shukla reports that Mark Dybul, speaking at AIDS 2014, said a focus on individual human beings will work better than a disease centric approach
TB is an infectious bacterial disease that spreads through the air. When people with pulmonary TB cough, sneeze or spit, they propel the TB germs into the air and a person needs to inhale only a few of these germs to become infected.
Viet Nam has made remarkable progress over the last decade in not only making harm reduction and HIV services available and accessible for people who use drugs but also reforming laws for supportive health p
Australia has taken a lead in supporting public health in India over the years. With XX International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) being held in Melbourne.
Irrationality is now the name of the game. Chemophobia is the irrational fear of chemicals. The word itself creates more irrational fear.

 

NewsBlaze Writers Of The Month



Popular Stories This Month

newsletter logo

NewsBlaze
Copyright © 2004-2014 NewsBlaze Pty. Ltd.
Use of this website is subject to our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy  | DMCA Notice               Press Room   |    Visit NewsBlaze Mobile Site