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After a year in New York, I became confused by the creative life I was observing and the conventional life I thought I should be living. I moved back to Boston and I continued to arrange poetry readings, but I still d idn't see how I could have a creative life myself. In desperation, I went to Boston College and got a degree in elementary education. I began teaching fifth grade in a public elementary school in Concord, Ma. I read haiku and short poems by Creeley and Ginsberg to my students. My homeroom class was never organized enough to pledge to the flag and to read from the Bible before the bell rang. Finally, one of the parents told me," Yo u shouln't be doing this. I work for a place called Educational Developm ent Corporation. They match far-out teachers with scientists to develop curriculum materials."

I immediately announced to my poet friends I was a photographer. No o ne laughed and I was on my way. Bob Creeley called to say that he needed a photograph for his new book. Charles Olson said, "Come on down to Glo ucester." Gordon Cairnie said he could use portraits of poets for the wal ls of his Grolier Book Shop. Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen went camera s hopping in Kyoto and shipped me a Mamiya C-33 in a soft leather case.

I took my camera everywhere and photographed everyone and everything. All the time. In my first apartment, (it had one room) I painted two walls black and set up a darkroom across from my daybed. In those days n obody knew anything about chemicals and the need for ventilation. After n ine years, I put together a collection of portraits of my friends in my house, Elsa's Housebook--A Woman's Photojournal, published by David R. Godine in 1974. But I didn't try to support myself as a photographer. I did editing and writing jobs to pay the rent. In th e sixties, it was still possible to live on the edge.

From the very beginning of his company, Dr. Land had given photographers Polaroid cameras and film and had collected their work. He had close relationships with Ansel Adams, Paul Caponigro, Philippe Halsmann and Ma rie Cosindas and believed that his company would benefit from his commitm ent to artists. Eventually, his support was formalized into the Polaroid Artists Support Program which encouraged selected photographers to use P olaroid materials in exchange for prints for the Polaroid Collection. Hav ing seen work made on the 20x24, I was dying to use the camera. Bob Roden at Polaroid agreed to subsidize a session on February 7, 1980 when Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky came to Boston to read their poetry and were staying with me.

I was supposed to make a temperate ten or twelve images. We did several nudes while Bob, Roger Gregoire and Peter Bass, who ran the camera that day, shook their heads and wondered what was going to happen next. I ha d always worked with small format cameras and didn't realize large camera s should be treated thoughtfully as the ponderous instruments they are. I snapped away as if I were using 35mm film. No wonder they were aghast. By the time I called it quits I had made 30 images. The amaryllis we had brought to the studio went from tight shut to full bloom under the studi o lights. I was hooked.

I wanted to photograph my husband Harvey Silverglate and our son Isaac\ and my other friends on the 20x24. How could I get more time on the camera? Subsidy by Polaroid was out of the question because the Artist Suppor t Program was besieged with requests. Renting the camera was costly. I thought about taking commissioned portraits on the 20x24 to cover the sub stantial rental cost but dismissed the idea as too scary. How would I fin d people to hire me? How could I take good portraits of people I didn't know? I had been a photographer for eighteen years, photographing peop le I knew. Finally, encouraged by Harvey who kept on asking "what's the worst that could happen?" I decided to go for it.

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