Fort Juniper by Bruce Myren

Issue 36

"Home is this little house in which I live, and much beyond it." - Robert Francis, 1986

Fort Juniper is the name of a small one-person house in the woods of Amherst, Massachusetts. It was built by the poet Robert Francis (1901-87) in 1940 and served as his home until his death. Presently, it is used to host poets-in-residence through the Robert Francis Trust. While wandering in the woods as a teenager, I often encountered an older man in a cap, someone I assumed to be a poet but never spoke to; many years later, I learned that the man who tipped his hat to me was Francis. It was in this area of Amherst where I first forged my sense of intimacy with the land and it was these same environs that Francis would walk for inspiration. Via Francis’s poems and prose, I am seeing my former hometown with new eyes and capturing the intersection of his understanding of this place with my own experience.

Many people know of the other two great poets from Amherst, Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, and an additional aim of this project is to bring more attention to Francis and his work. For Francis, Fort Juniper was more than just an abode in which to reside, it was a fort to shelter him, a lens through which he viewed the world, and a mirror with which to observe his inner states. In researching Francis, I have read his autobiography, poems, and many of his newspaper columns. Tales of walks and neighbors, trees and chickens, these are the observations made with the eyes of a poet. It is from Francis’s reflections and poetry that I occasionally cull titles and inspiration for my images.

The area being photographed is growing naturally to include parts of the river that flow away from Fort Juniper towards my childhood home and other locations related to Francis. In essence, this project allows me entrance into a world I had left many years ago and the opportunity to explore how and where our lives interweave through time.

Selections from this series will be shown in a solo show at Gallery Kayafas in Boston in Fall 2012.

Bruce Myren is a Cambridge, Massachusetts based photographer.
To view more of Bruce’s work, please visit his website.

  170 Market Hill Road, 2009  

170 Market Hill Road, 2009  

  A Small, Small House, 2011 

A Small, Small House, 2011 

  The Southern Terminus of a Short, Short Walk, 2009 

The Southern Terminus of a Short, Short Walk, 2009 

  Come out into the Sun, 2011 

Come out into the Sun, 2011 

  Lord Wilbur's Oak [view #3], 2009

Lord Wilbur's Oak [view #3], 2009

  Lord Wilbur's Oak [view #1], 2009 

Lord Wilbur's Oak [view #1], 2009 

  Encounter [Robert Frost Trail], 2009  

Encounter [Robert Frost Trail], 2009  

  Meadow near Cushman Brook, 2011 

Meadow near Cushman Brook, 2011 

  Cushman Brook [view #7], 2011  

Cushman Brook [view #7], 2011  

  Factory Hollow [view #1], 2011 

Factory Hollow [view #1], 2011 

  Black Oak, 2011  

Black Oak, 2011  

  Cushman Brook [view #3], 2009  

Cushman Brook [view #3], 2009  

  Cushman Brook [view #6], 2011  

Cushman Brook [view #6], 2011  

  Mill River [view #2], 2011 

Mill River [view #2], 2011 

  Cushman Brook [view #1], 2009 

Cushman Brook [view #1], 2009 

  Mill River [view #1], 2011 

Mill River [view #1], 2011 

  Sapling, 2011 

Sapling, 2011 

  Tree, Twine, Vine, 2009 

Tree, Twine, Vine, 2009 

  Coming Home to Window Light, 2009

Coming Home to Window Light, 2009

  The View Through Fort Juniper, 2008 

The View Through Fort Juniper, 2008