Poetry in Pictures

As an ACDC track played through the tiny tinny-sounding speaker of a smart phone, we danced
without care in a long-grassed meadow one late summer’s day. Spinning and swaying until giddy,
to the point of me not knowing where my movement ended and her’s began. With camera in hand,
I followed her in that moment and almost as default, we visually formed her words between us.

I’ve long been a believer in the magic of roots that grow and intertwine with some of the people that
I meet in life. Sharing and seeing the natural patterns that emerge with them and getting to explore
some of the places they, in turn, connect with.

Nicola Dellard-Lyle, mother and poet, became one such person when I met her and her family at a
wedding of mutual friends last summer. So when Nicola sent me a message several months later, I
felt more of that root grow. Her words read like this…

I’m writing the last lines of my first book of poetry, called From Above the Surface. It’s a collection
of poems I have written through, and out of, some difficult times I have experienced in motherhood.
It goes further back to some of the triggers and shadows from my past.
Even though I’ve been supported over the years, and I felt like I had healed, I have now found the
words to finally bring me back home. So each poem is a shot sent out from what felt like the
deepest dark. I hope it will resonate with those mothers out there who are struggling.

Weekly conversations began between us, with me realising that this was no one-stop photographic
brief. It was one that was sensitive, organic and fragile yet courageous. We talked a lot about
trees, the freedom of being above ground yet roots keeping us grounded. This was the beginning
of how our creative brief grew between us, to be able to feel our way into the right visuals to
honour her words.

As I read the through the collection of poems for the book, From Above the Surface, I can see
clearly how Nicola continues to draw her mothering wisdom from her seven year old son, Caleb.
In the time that I spent with them both, it touched me how important Caleb’s voice and ideas have
been in creating these photographs. He joined in all our planning conversations, as well as taking

part in the day itself. When he wasn’t featuring in the photos, he would stand at my side, quietly
observing and guiding his mother. And even through his joyful child-like play, I was left in no doubt
that he is wise beyond his young years.

I strongly feel that this most natural guidance in strength and growth that comes from our children,
begins before they are even born. It reminds me of the countless times I’ve quietly looked to my
own daughter for those next steps in how to be more me, as well as how to parent her through
challenging times.

The day with Caleb and Nicola was spent among the trees and meadows: our playground.

We explored woodland grottos, where we climbed and swung from branches. Danced barefoot,
spinning in circles and falling over into the long grasses. All the while, I was aware that this day in
nature’s own playground was very much their theatre stage and their direction. I was to simply be
an observing audience, recording and visualising her words.

As the day unravelled further, we became ever more excited in discovering more places to
photograph and play, and I felt profoundly honoured for the gifted
responsibility of breathing visual life into Nicola’s poetic journey of motherhood.

“I found a scrap of paper in a notebook only the other day, it was where I scrawled the first poem I
wrote ‘Return’, the first poem I wrote in a space of clarity after this difficult time.

This book and this journey has been a big healing process, and I now realise it
had been a turbulent time and I’d not been there in myself. I also now realise that I’m


Published in the Winter 2023 issue of JUNO Magazine

From Above the Surface is available from Nicola’s website HERE.