As the acclaimed writer Lois McMaster Bujold once said, “My home is not a place, it is people.”
Charlottesville is much more than a plot of restaurants, shops, and landmarks. The dedicated entrepreneurs, creative bakers and restaurant owners, hardworking students, and all the fantastic members of the community are what truly defines our quirky, friendly town. Some people you will meet have called Charlottesville home since childhood, some only spend a fleeting, but exciting four years at UVA, and others come to live here from all around the world, adding new perspectives, ingenuity, and art to this place.
We at The Charlottesville Guide were very lucky to meet with an inspiring paragon of our community- she’s a poet, photographer, and food blogger who goes by the pen-name He.the.Bard
After graduating from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand just last year, He.the.Bard has traveled all over the mid-Atlantic U.S., visiting Virginia Beach, D.C., New York, Silver Spring, Maryland, and more, capturing the essence of these cities through photos and poems as she goes. Now, she is settled in Charlottesville, shedding her artistic light on the many charming aspects of the town.
In her own words, she describes her role in the community as a “participating observer.” She says, “I participate in town’s happenings and ongoing activities, but because I am not originally from here, I always have this sense of in-betweenness which made me become very observant in everything around me, the actions, the words being spoken, and the atmosphere they both create. And because I love to write, I became the narrator of what I observe here in Charlottesville.”
Poetry and Writing
In regards to her writing and poetry, He.the.bard says the major themes she emphasizes are “ambiguity [and] the complexity of honesty.” She feels that as a writer, “being very observant and noticing the unnoticeable are very crucial,” which you can see reflected through her wordsmithing. She has also adopted the term “‘Saudade’” as a creative anchor throughout her work. To her, ‘Saudade’ is a “term in Portuguese which describes the nostalgic feeling or the feeling of longing for something you don’t even know existed [and] this really describes my work in poetry, as well.”
She explained to us that her writing journey took off when she started “blogging about food and the stories and the people around it. I became addicted to these two [concepts,] but I was having a hard time verbalizing my thoughts and what I extracted out of the real world into words. So I explored more into different kinds of writing, and that was when I found poetry. It became very attractive to me since poetry does not require a lot of clarity, instead it leaves so much room for imagination. As soon as I got into that, I found myself asking for deeper knowledge in English poetry, and so I started enrolling into English Literature classes.
But being in Thailand, where English poetry is not yet that prevalent or widely noticed, I found more freedom in writing the way I wanted to write and saw no boundaries in creating the poetry that was honest enough to portray my true feelings. Anyway, social media such as Instagram also opened up a chance for me to find my place in a virtual community of poetry, and that is also where I have been growing as a writer. By posting my works out there, and also being inspired by other writers.”
Click on the icons below to read more selections of He.the.Bard’s poetry.
Much of He.the.Bard’s writing style and thematic focus blends into her photography. Like her writing, she wants her photographs to reflect the essence of ‘saudade.’ As she describes it, “Most of my pictures, like my writing, are involved around food and the people around it. There are certain styles and colors that I focus in my photography to create the effect [to] always represent the term ‘saudade,’ which give these feelings of longing, warm, nostalgic, and liveliness all at once.”
She has worked hard to develop a unique photography style, practicing over the years to hone her technique. “Taking pictures is my second nature, and so I have just been doing it through trial and error until I learned how to take pictures and edit them to the style that I love.” Her favorite camera is a good ol’ iPhone camera. She plans to stick with it as her main tool, because, “when it comes to taking pictures and photo editing, it has always been my absolute favorite.” As for other photographers who influence her work, she likes to pull inspiration from fellow food bloggers. Her favorite are “Molly Yeh and Oh, Ladycakes.”
You’ll recognize many of the same restaurants The Charlottesville Guide features throughout the lovely photos on He.the.Bard’s Instagram, including Bodo’s Bagels, Mudhouse, Downtown Mall, Take it Away, Benny Deluca’s, Grit Coffee, Oakhurst Inn Cafe and Espresso Bar, and much more. Although she includes the text of her poems in many of her Instagram photos, be sure to check out her captions, where she often includes captivating prose and poetry about her experiences from these spots.
The Charlottesville Guide is glad to have found He.the.Bard, as we both seek to highlight the best parts of our town via the internet. Keep a lookout for her while you are out and about in Charlottesville, and consider giving her a “follow” on Instagram.