It was 1989 and my friend Robin Hiteshew asked if I wanted to attend a poetry reading by Seamus Heaney at Swarthmore College. I was familiar enough Heaney’s work to jump at the chance. Later I got to meet him, but was too shy to do anything but mumble and shake his hand.
Thirty years later, at the opening of his show, “Portraits of Irish Writers” Robin compared a photo portrait of Heaney he took during that visit to Swarthmore with one he took almost a decade later in Cambridge where Heaney was teaching at Harvard. In the first photo, a slightly disheveled Heaney struck a casual pose under a tree on the Swarthmore campus. In the second picture, Heaney was wearing a tailored jacket “Look,” said Robin pointing to the first picture, “his trousers are rolled. That’s before he won the Nobel prize and the game got more serious.”
Robin Hiteshew has been photographing Irish writers (and musicians) for more than forty years and it has been a labor of love. His portraits are personal and revealing in a way that is truly beyond the words. And he has a story to go with each one.
Robin’s new show, “Beyond the Words: Portraits of Irish Writers” will run until June 26 at the McNichol Gallery which is located in the Thomas A. Bruder, Jr. Life Center at Neumann University. Admission is free. For directions, press here.