Interview: Carl Scharwath
A Poet, Artist & Photographer
The Interview : Carl Scharwath
(Rachna Singh in conversation with Carl Scharwath)
The Wise Owl talks to Carl Scharwath, a poet, an artist and a photographer. His work has been featured globally in more than 175 journals. Carl has authored three poetry books and his latest book ‘Playground of Destiny’ features poetry, short stories and photography (Impspired Press). His two photography books were published by Praxis in Africa. His photography was also exhibited in the Mount Dora Center and The Leesburg Center for The Arts. Seven global poets have selected his photography as their book covers. Carl was the art editor for Minute Magazine (4 years.) He was nominated for The Best of the Net Awards in 2021 and 2022 and his paintography/poetry were featured in a 2022 Showcase with Valiant Scribe. He is also a competitive runner, and a 2nd degree black belt in Taekwondo.
Thanks, Carl, for taking time out of a busy schedule to talk to The Wise Owl.
RS: You are a multi-faceted artist and writer. For the benefit of the readers please tell us what attracted you to diverse creative arts like poetry, painting and photography.
CS: My poetry journey began over 10 years ago. I am a dedicated runner and one night during a run I was almost hit by a car. On the way home I started to think about what had happened. I had a surrealistic feeling that either I was dreaming of this walk home or I was in the hospital. Having never written before, the next day I wrote a poem and a flash fiction about the event and my feelings. When I sent these out to my first journal, and they were published I knew I had discovered a new passion.
Photography started the same way. I was in a 5k race with a friend and noticed an abandoned building on the course. After the race, my friend Jenny Link told me to get my phone and she would be the model for the photos. We continued together with other abandoned buildings and as these became published another love was born. Jenny passed away a few years ago sadly, and all my photography is dedicated to her memory as she was the one who inspired me with my first camera click.
Painting was my passion in college as an art major. One day in New York City Central Park there were artists displaying their paintings on the street. I remember saying to my friend my paintings are nowhere near this level of talent and I switched my major to Business Management and did not paint again for 45 years.
RS: I have been looking at your photographs. They are creative, experimental and connect with the viewer. In your Artist Statement you say that you like to capture surrealistic moments. Could you tell our readers what you mean by ‘surrealistic moments’ and how do you come by such moments?
CS: I will begin my answer with the definition (from Google) the principles, ideals, or practice of producing fantastic or incongruous imagery or effects in art, literature, film, or theater by means of unnatural or irrational juxtapositions and combinations.
This is what I wish to accomplish in my art. In my mind I have two themes, one being the painting, the other the photo. I love to combine them both to create a story. When I take just a photo, I am always thinking what story this could tell or how to give it a dream like aura. This is why I love abandoned buildings. I hope the viewer like me thinks about the history, who lived there, why they left, where they are now? When I combine either two paintings or a painting with photography, I am always thinking of the combinations that make the whole.
RS: Your paintography is riveting. You blend a painting with photos to create a beautiful aesthetic whole. Our readers would be eager to know about your creative process; how you conceive an idea or a story and present it in a way so as to evoke an emotional response?
CS: For me it’s always about telling a story which is the definition of Tableau photography. My painting is always first: either abstract or a semi abstract nature scene. I am not painting to a photo but painting for the image itself. I then go through my photography files and find photography that will finish the story. This might be a strange way to accomplish the finished art, but the randomness seems to work for me. I also love to incorporate international friends who supply me with their photos for my work. This is a great way to have a model without having to do a photoshoot. I reach out to my friends for their photos or have many that ask me and that is the ultimate compliment to my art. I then attempt to have these published as a collaboration.
RS: You write some very insightful poetry. The Wise Owl has had the pleasure of featuring your poems ‘Rue’ & ‘Idolatory’ in our Anniversary Edition. Tell us what attracted you to this genre? Who is your favorite contemporary poet?
CS: I love to write poetry and short stories. I am an avid reader of literature and feel every writer is an avid reader. I challenge every artist to learn about their craft. I love to read biographies, watch videos and view photography of the masters. So being a life-long reader encouraged me to pick up a pen and attempt this beautiful art.
I have two favorite poets, Sylvia Plath for her confessional passion and Hart Crane for his monumental poem ‘The Bridge.’
RS: You have said somewhere that your favourite project is 'ekphrastic' poetry. For the benefit of our readers and viewers please elaborate the term and tell us the tools you use to create such poetry.
CS: 'Ekphrasis' is a vivid verbal description often dramatic of a visual work of art. This practice is my favorite as I can work with international poets. I am grateful for these collaborations first started with the posting of my art on social media. Writers would reach out to me asking if they could write a poem for my art as they were inspired. This was a great feeling to know that someone loved my work enough to spend the time on their own creation. I would then send these out for publication and am grateful I have published our collaborations and for some writers this was their first publication. I love most to champion other writers and artists.
I am also grateful that two writers from the Philippines; Luzviminda Gabato Rivera and Lyn Pastrana have included my photography with their poetry in recently published books.
I love collaborations as I feel art is more fun when done together and is an amazing opportunity to meet new friends.
RS: We would like to know if you are working on any book of poetry or photography. When is it likely to hit the bookstores?
CS: I currently am not working on any books but prefer at this stage to help others around the world and continue to experiment with my paintography. I do have enough short stories and maybe in the future I would like to have a book of my short stories. I enjoy most helping others with their books and have my art on 10 different authors’ book covers. I do have three published poetry and two published photography books, so I am concentrating on other avenues.
RS: You experiment with your craft, making it distinct and separate. What advice would you give upcoming poets or photographers about how to make their work different and yet appealing?
CS: Always experiment. Think of ways to be different. Work with others, network and always give back to others. Look to the masters who came before you but my most important advice is to always be observant as art is all around you just waiting to be discovered, created and shared by you.
Thank you so much for being a part of The Wise Owl. We wish you the best in all your creative endeavours and hope that you continue experimenting with your craft, always creating something new, different and aesthetically beautiful.
Thank you, The Wise Owl, I am grateful and honored to be in your publication. I hope we can work again in the future, and I wish you the best always.