Julie Blackmon In Conversation with Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins

Photographer Julie Blackmon and Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins share a casual conversation on the opening evening of Julie Blackmon’s exhibition Fever Dreams on March 5, 2020. The two long-time friends discuss Julie’s photographs from her Homegrown series, inspired by her childhood in Springfield, Missouri and complemented by poetry readings from Billy’s vast collection of work. Together, they discuss innocuous domestic tableaux, woven with fantasy and subtle satire, which reflect a delicate balance between the darkness and charm of contemporary American life in suburbia.

Since Julie and Billy first met in Julie’s hometown of Springfield, Missouri over a decade ago, they’ve shared an overlapping, common and significant theme of “absence” in their work. At first glance, Julie’s photography – for example, Bathers (2019) and Stock Tank (2012) – conjure imaginative paradises at play. However upon closer look, scenes reveal children alone in backyards, garages, and neighborhoods, where the absence of adults suggests looming potential for danger. For Billy, the concept of absence is ever-present in his poetry, especially illustrated by “Absence,” “Fishing on the Susquehanna in July,” “Snow Day,” and “Only Child”. Click the poem titles to follow along as Billy Collins reads to a live audience a selection of his poetry.

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To reserve your copy of New York Times Bestseller “Rain in Portugal” from Billy Collins ($16), Julie Blackmon’s “Homegrown” ($55), and postcards and posters from Julie’s Fever Dreams exhibition at Fotografiska New York, please contact shop.ny@fotografiska.com. Books and merchandise will ship as soon as Fotografiska New York re-opens.

About Julie Blackmon
Julie Blackmon is a photographer who has lived in her hometown, Springfield, Missouri, her whole life in the same neighborhood. She enrolled at Missouri State University where she was captivated by photography as a student. Years later when she became a mother of three, she engaged in photographing her domestic experience as a focus of her work. Blackmon’s work is in the collections of Cleveland Museum of Art, JP Morgan Chase Art Collection, Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Portland Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, and Fotografiska New York, among others. She continues to live and work in Springfield.

About Billy Collins
Billy Collins is the author of twelve collections of poetry, including New York Times Bestseller, The Rain in Portugal. A Distinguished Professor of English at Lehman College of the City University of New York and Senior Distinguished Fellow at the Winter Park Institute of Rollins College, he was Poet Laureate of the United States from 2001 to 2003 and New York State Poet from 2004 to 2006. In 2016 he was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters.