Today I saw a dog--a boxer, I think,
wearing a hot pink tutu,
tulle swishing
as she trotted down the street alongside her
owner’s motorized cart.

sometimes delight comes easy,
around the corner like a
dog in a pink tutu.

Sometimes, though, it’s a slow climb,
slogging through,
boots sucking mud,
over rocks,
to find, suddenly,


In the climb,
and the mud,
and the rocks.

In the river’s purr
and the clear blue of sky
through bare winter branches.

wrapped: reading list, v.2022

I didn’t read near as much in 2022 as I have in the past couple of years. I think my brain worked more in images than words. Even so, I got a little bit of reading in. I finished off Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead series (put off several years after reading Gilead, because, well, not my favorite), found myself drawn to memoirs (do yourself a favor and read both Agassi’s and Brandi Carlile’s), and studied photographs in several collections, some of which I didn’t get all the way through so I didn’t include. I even branched out into audiobooks, a trend that appears to be continuing in 2023. So, here it is wrapped up, reading list, v.2022.

The Wild Iris, Louise Glück
Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot
Appalachian Elegy, bell hooks
New and Selected Poems, Volume One, Mary Oliver
Blue Horses, Mary Oliver 

The Polaroid Diaries, Linda McCartney
Wide Open, Linda McCartney 
Sun Prints, Linda McCartney
Photo Basics, Joel Sartore
Advanced ICM Techniques, Roxanne Bouché Overton

Home, Marilynne Robinson
Beheld, TaraShea Nesbit
Lila, Marilynne Robinson
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Ocean Vuong
Sea of Tranquility, Emily St. John Mandel
Home, Toni Morrison
Jack, Marilynne Robinson
Long Way Down, Jason Reynolds
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret?, Judy Blume 

creativity; Where the Divine and the Human Meet, Matthew Fox
Poet Warrior, Joy Harjo 
Open, Andre Agassi 
How to Sell Your Art Online, Cory Huff
Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers, Deborah Heiligman
Midlife and the Great Unknown, David Whyte 
creativity, John Cleese 
Broken Horses, Brandi Carlile


Over the last year, creative energy has been manifesting in images more than words. I’ve gone deeper into photography than I ever expected–sharpening my skill, honing my eye, digging into new techniques and processes. It’s been a rewarding time, and while I haven’t written much in the way of poetry, that doesn’t mean that I have not been creating. In addition to concert photography, I’ve explored not only traditional photography, but sun prints, image transfers, and a new (to me) technique called Intentional Camera Movement. I’ve assembled a nice portfolio of work. So to support this facet of my creative endeavors, I recently launched a new website and I’d like to introduce you to this new aspect of my creative life. 

Presenting: Stephanie Pepper Studios

Here you’ll find a sampling of my work, as well as a shop where both limited edition and open edition prints can be purchased. I hope you’ll take some time to look around and maybe even get lost in these images.


when rain falls

No matter how far
I carry myself
or where I land,
I’ve no doubt that when,
deep into the dry summer,
begins to fall and
tumbles across the
you will find me on my
with a sweating jar of
sweet tea
muttering, “mm-hmm, we needed this.”

sun prints

Earlier this year I read Louise Glück’s collection The Wild Iris. The cover photo intrigued me as much as the poems and I searched the cover to find out about the artist.

Anna Atkins. An English botanist who lived during the 1800s.

The photo: “Iris pseudacorus,” a cyanotype ca. 1861. Cyanotypes are one of the earliest forms of photography, and Atkins was one of the first to use the process to document the plants she studied.

Cover photo of The Wild Iris, by Louise Glück

I read a bit about cyanotypes, and the process; tucked it away as something interesting to maybe try later.

Later has become Now.

Cyanotypes harness the power of the sun to develop photos or objects laid on paper treated with a sensitizer–a mix of Potassium Ferricyanide and Ferric Ammonium Citrate. The treated paper is painted with the sensitizer and left to dry in the dark. Once dry, objects such as flowers or leaves, or a photo negative–in my case, a digital photo that has been converted to grayscale, inverted, and printed on a transparency–is laid on the paper and placed in the sun. The painted surface turns from yellowish-green, to deep bronze as Brother Sun goes about his work. Development takes as little as three minutes. The paper is then washed in cold water and the exposed areas turn a deep Prussian blue, while the unexposed areas–areas that were covered–turn white. It’s a bit like magic, and I love it.


Three daisies
Honeysuckle branches
sun print–this one smelled so good!
daisy bouquet


wildflowers in a mason jar
winter tree:reflected

I have plenty to figure out about what works and what doesn’t, but I’m having fun!

PS: I later found out Linda McCartney did sun prints, too. *hearteyes emoji*

beautiful splinter

The moon was a beautiful
splinter last night, hanging
amber in the indigo sky,
while threads of milky purple clouds
drifted by like lazy hitchhikers
on a deserted highway.
Oh, I wanted a picture—or two—
but between arriving home
and chopping onions for soup,
leaving no time to get the camera,
the moon dropped behind the trees, 
then, slipped below the horizon,
out of reach, out of time.
If I’d known—
     if I’d known,
I would’ve stood
in her light a little longer,
gazed more fully, breathed more deeply,
taking in the angled crescent
nodding luminous
in the muted night. I carry
it now, a photograph in my mind,
as I do all beautiful things.

©stephanie g pepper, 2020

sister moon, 10/8/2021
photo by: stephanie pepper, 2021

make a river

How many drops make a river
where silver bellied fish flash in the sun?
How many make the puddle in the pothole
where a robin splashes in the rain?
For that matter, how many
make this mug, make this spoonful,
make a cup, make a kettle?
How many make a spring storm,
that soaks the winter weary earth?
Don’t ask about the ocean--
it’s futile to guess.
What is one more drop,
or another tear that falls?

©stephanie g pepper, 2022

“Get Back”, Linda McCartney, and finding a new art

“McCartney has a formidable acuity of gaze, but her pictures eschew the perfectionism of a photographer like him [Henri Cartier-Bresson] for something that embraces instead the informal, accidental beauty of lived experience.”

from the introduction to “The Polaroid Diaries”

After catching small glimpses of Linda Eastman (later McCartney, of course) in “The Beatles: Get Back” I became smitten with her work. And reading more, her whole way of looking at the world, whether through a lens or not. Particularly mesmerizing are her Polaroid transfers. Misty and muted; enchanted, as though what she’s seeing is just beyond the Veil.

Simple subjects.

–a winter rose.

–scattered maples leaves on a wooden walkway.


Utterly breathtaking.

McCartney captured the extraordinary magic of ordinary moments.

Her daughter Mary says, “She’d always just be looking for everyday moments that interested her rather than manicured scenes. She wanted real moments.”

I wanted to try it myself, but I don’t have a Polaroid camera. So…I improvised.

My first successful attempt. Thistle field on 9×12 watercolor paper.
Trumpet creeper on a wooden bridge. 9×12 watercolor paper.
Reaching for the sun. 9×12 watercolor paper.
Tufted titmouse. 6×9 watercolor paper
Milk thistle. 9×12 watercolor paper. Perhaps my favorite piece so far. That wonderful rainbow of color wasn’t present in the original photo, but appeared in printing. The transfer process really brought it out.

And there is my new art.

wrapped: reading list, v.2021

Window Poems, Wendell Berry
Conamara Blues: Poems, John O’Donohue
100 Poems, Seamus Heaney
Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings: Poems, Joy Harjo
The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry, Wendell Berry
Given: Poems, Wendell Berry
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, Mary Oliver
Bright Dead Things: Poems, Ada Limón
The Mad Farmer Poems, Wendell Berry
The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: poems, Marie Howe
Breathing the Water, Denise Levertov
Entries: poems, Wendell Berry
Red Suitcase, Naomi Shihab Nye
Station Island, Seamus Heaney
What Do We Know: poems and prose poems, Mary Oliver
Scrambled Eggs & Whiskey: poems 1991-1995, Hayden Carruth
How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons), Barbara Kingsolver
Dearly, Margaret Atwood

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard
Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert
Journal of a Solitude, May Sarton
A Sand County Almanac and Sketches Here and There, Aldo Leopold
The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man’s Love Affair with Nature, J. Drew Lanham
Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics, Mirabai Starr
Standing by Words: essays, Wendell Berry
Leaving Church, Barbara Brown Taylor
Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants, Robin Wall Kimmerer
The Beginner’s Photography Guide, Chris Gatcum
If Women Rose Rooted: a life-changing journey to authenticity and belonging, Sharon Blackie
It All Turns on Affection, The Jefferson Lecture & Other Essays, Wendell Berry
Women Who Run With the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estés
The Body Knows the Way: Coming Home Through the Dark Night, Gordon Peerman
Appalachian Reckoning: A Region Responds to Hillbilly Elegy, edited by Anthony Harkins and Meredith McCarroll
Wild Like Flowers, The Restoration of Relationship through Regeneration, Daniel Firth Griffith
The Long-Legged House: essays, Wendell Berry
Late Migrations; A Natural History of Love and Loss, Margaret Renkl
The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle

Fidelity: Five Stories, Wendell Berry
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Memory of Old Jack, Wendell Berry
The Once and Future Witches, Alix E. Harrow
The Wild Birds: Six Stories of the Port William Membership, Wendell Berry
Remembering, Wendell Berry
Circe, Madeline Miller
A World Lost: a novel, Wendell Berry