Love Letter To Teacher and More Love From The Los Angeles Poets And Writers Collective

A Love Letter To My teacher and A Little Help From My Friends From The Los Angeles Poets And Writers Collective

Dear Love of My Life, Jack Grapes…

The day that I met you, so many years ago at The Los Angeles Festival of Books, you told me that if I studied with you my life would change.

I was so lost that day, all I knew was I needed something. Connor was my little hostage as I, unable to spend too much time on any one book or person because there was something waiting for me, pulled him through all those tents and passed all those booths of booksellers.

There was indeed something waiting to be found in the last tent I entered, the Bombshelter Press tent, it was the title of an Anthology that stopped me, ON THE BUS.

“Are you on the bus or off the bus?” A dear friend of mine at the time would ask and we’d laugh uproariously until we were in tears, “I was run over by the bus,” I’d reply, because it was true, I was so lost in life that it was funny. That book title stopped me and then I looked up…

Another friend from that era had told me about a teacher so brilliant so right for me that I must take his class immediately. His name, she said, was Jack Grapes.

And there you were.

You, who opened my heart and my eyes to the artist inside of me, you, brilliant soul, who quenched a thirst I didn’t know I had for learning and love, you who opened my eyes and ears to what is a poem and you who introduced me to all those wondrous poets who stand today and to all of those who’ve gone before…

Oh, Jack, I’d have to create a poem as deep and gut wrenching as HOWL to make the world understand!

Instead, I moved to the middle of nowhere.

Your link, besides the obvious?

Tim Giblin posted a picture on Facebook of a farmhouse for sale in central NY.

Tim Gibin was in your class with me.

Method Writing with Jack Grapes.

Oh, how I loved my Method Writing with Jack Grapes. Oh, how sacred were those Monday nights with my writing trembling in my hand, barely able to concentrate on the poet reading before me, the deep calm that came over the room when I began to read, the silence like the roar of Niagra falls in my ears as finished, as I tried to listen to your words about my words, your words, your words, manna from heaven were your words.

And you, jolly soul, serene taskmaster, Shakespearean actor genius, horse whisperer to all of our madnesses and slayer of our talents (which was not our genius…it is our genius, you said, not our talent that would save us).

And I need to be saved.

I sat in your classes for years until I was saved.

An honorary member of The Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective, I was twice saved.

I started writing 20 line poems inspired by your short poems class.

Because I so loved writing 20 line poems, I recruited other Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective members to write with me, to share the first and the tenth line of a 20 line poem, a collective of poets feeding from each other’s genius.

Tim Giblin joined my 20 liner poetry group.

Tim Giblin and I kept in touch by writing 20 liners and on Facebook when he moved back to NYC.

When Tim Giblin posted on Facebook that he “bought the farm”, meaning a rundown palace in central NY, I followed his journey on Facebook and in the 20 line poems he wrote.

The minute I couldn’t stand to live in LA anymore, the minute the urge to change my life had me by the throat amd was wrestling me to the hard wood floors of my cottage by the sea, the very minute that Tim Giblin posted a picture of a broken down old farmhouse on FB and asked, “Who wants to be my neighbor” I said, “Me.”

I bought that old farmhouse next to his, sight unseen.

I moved to the middle of nowhere, 3 months later.

Because I renovated that house and had neither job nor friends, besides Tim, I started taking pictures with my iPhone.

Because those pictures kept me sane and resonated with my FB friends, I took more and more until I was inside a lyrical love poem to central NY.

And this is ALL because of you, Jack Grapes.

Did I tell you lately, I LOVE YOU?

Here is a link to the images that we will hang at the gallery, they will be limited edition 8 x 8 images of the central NY I fell in love, with printed directly to aluminum.

Here is the press release and a few of the testimonials I have gathered…I send these to you, Jack Grapes, because they are all by your students…fellow members of The Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective.

My family.

We are a community of artists that YOU gave birth to.

Subject: For Immediate Release – Photographer, Vicki Whicker, to Appear at Cherry Branch Gallery 4/6/13

Cherry Branch Gallery presents Vicki Whicker’s iPhotography- Dunga Brook Diary: A Year of Seeing Differently

Saturday, April 6th, 2013….Cherry Valley, NY- Cherry Branch Gallery will be hosting an opening reception for central New York artist, Vicki Whicker. For the month of April, the gallery will feature a collection of her iPhoneography, Dunga Brook Diary: A Year of Seeing Differently.

“The Cherry Branch Gallery is tremendously pleased to represent Vicki Whicker and her iPhoneography. Whicker demonstrates a mastery of this genre through wit, heart, critical awareness, style, technique, and an infectious appreciation of her subject matter. Looking doesn’t have to get any better than this.” Kristen Henderson, Director, Cherry Branch Gallery

In 2011, Vicki Whicker left Los Angeles for central New York to renovate an 1820’s farmhouse that she found on Facebook and purchased, sight unseen. The rundown property, she would later learn, was named “Dunga Brook,” a once a thriving dairy farm spanning over 2,000 acres in Otsego county.

While waiting for renovations, Whicker explored the area using her iPhone to capture the world above and below her feet. It was this impromptu exercise that marked her personal awakening to the astounding beauty of New York State; beauty that has surely been here since Dunga Brook’s heydey.

Of the contemporary medium and her process, Whicker states, “iPhoneography as a mobile method for making art and as a creative movement was exploding around the world while I was stalking the flora and fauna of my new home. Coming from LA, I was in a paradise- the lush trees, the long country roads lined with Queen Anne’s Lace big as pie plates, the crimson and gold fall leaves, those first pristine snow flakes. The more I shot, the more I saw; the more I saw, the more I wanted to see…by the time my house was done 6 months had passed and I had produced over 20,000 images…through the lens of my iPhone I fell completely in love with central New York.”

Dunga Brook Diary: A Year of Seeing Differently, is Whicker’s first iPhoneography exhibit and features her evocative 8″x8″ limited edition images printed directly on metal.

Please join us for the opening reception on Saturday, April 6, from 5-7pm. Cherry Branch Gallery, 25 Main Street, Cherry Valley, NY 13320 / 607-264-9530 Facebook: Cherry Branch Gallery / Twitter: @cherrybranchgal
Schedule of Events
APRIL 6th, Saturday, 5-7pm: OPENING RECEPTION Live Jazz with Jeff Palmer,
5-7pm (pre-sales 12-4pm)
APRIL 14th, Sunday, 3-5pm: Seeing Differently: Intro to iPhoneography Workshop w/Vicki Whicker. $40. Fee / Limited to 20 spaces
APRIL 20th Saturday, 5-7pm: Wine & Sweets, Poetry Reading with Los Angeles Poets and Writers Collective members, Vicki Whicker, Leslie Berliant and Chris Shearer
APRIL 27th, Saturday, 5-7pm: Closing Party – SALES CLOSE @ 7pm


“Looking at the photos by Vicki Whicker, you realize they were not taken by an outsider, nor are they photos presented of a life through a cinema verite lens. These images are evidence of this artist’s life, but relentlessly filtered through her passion, love, longing, pain, and the unbearably intimate birth of a new freedom.”
Chiwan Choi, Poet, Publisher Writ Large Press, Los Angeles, CA

“Here is Vicki Whicker making us see. Little hidden windows, splashes of
light and color. Look at this ground, she says. Look again and again!
It’s never the same! It’s never boring! Surprise!”
Wayne Liebman, Playwright, Los Angeles, CA

“I’ve had the privilege of knowing Vicki Wicker for almost 20 years now, having first met her in Jack Grape’s writing class in Los Angeles. I was immediately struck by her honesty and vulnerability. She made me laugh, she made me cry, but mostly she made me feel. These were heady times, thick with words wrung from within.

Vicki and I both came from the Midwest, originally, and Los Angeles was both a welcoming place and a hard place to warm up to. Through a sheer force of will, she flourished. But life’s circumstances has led Vicki on a new journey of discovery, ever a poet, she has taken up iPhonography with the same zeal and power as her words.”
Ellen Jantzen, Photographer/Digital Artist, St. Louis, MO

“Vicki Whicker has that rare ability to see the beauty all around her, from the bees feasting on a milkweed flower to the glint of rain drops on a spider web, using just her iPhone and her keen eye she has captured the majestic tableau of Central New York in a series of photographs that tell a story of transformation. Not only does she chronicle the ever changing colors, landscapes, flora and fauna of the area, but she also tells her own journey of falling in love with a place, with an art form and with herself. Her photographs and her story are absolutely captivating and not to be missed.” Leslie Berliant, Blue Moon Group, Le Marais Chocolate, Cooperstown, NY

“Upon first glance it is apparent that Vicki Whicker’s talents are not confined to the page or brush (Whicker is also an accomplished poet & painter). Her images provoke an immediate emotionality. What strikes one, are the details she pulls into focus, the ephemeral beauty of nature captured, whether awash in texture or throbbing with color or sharp-edged and bare. Whicker compresses moments into jewels and holds them up to the light for us to reflect upon —in her images reality mates with imagination revealing layers unseen to the casual observer. The spectator is left aching with the recognition of just how fleeting and magnificent our journey is.”
Ariana Trinneer, Poet, iPhoneographer, Artist Rep

“Through a small lens, Vicki Whicker has captured the grand stillness and raw beauty of this place. Through all seasons, these images invite us to step into silence and experience a changing landscape that is calling us home. Through a small lens, Vicki Whicker has captured the grand stillness and raw beauty of this place. Through all seasons, these images invite us to step into silence and experience a changing landscape that is calling us home.”
Jeremy Stuart, Poet, Documentary Filmmaker, San francisco, CA

“The thing that sets Vicki Whicker apart as a photographer is her ability to capture a story in a still photograph. As in Vicki’s poetry and her painting, she is telling her own story, yet she manages to allow you to dream up your very own. Her photographs inspire deep contemplation on the part of the viewer, which is a true gift. These works of Art are meditations that invite you into a world you wish to explore again and again.”                                                                                                                                                      Mary Petrie Lowen, Writer, Los Angeles, CA


Jack, thank you,

I wish we were in the same town, I would love to HUG YOU.


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  1. And the photo blows me away! I just don’t know how you do it with an iPhone! Oh how I wish I could be at your workshop.


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