The photos that became a book that became an anthem to life.
A Visual Diary by Prudence Kohl
This award-winning visual diary of original verses married to 60 color and black and white fine art photographs points the way to a higher level of human dignity and potential, challenging us to rethink all cherished beliefs that separate the head from the heart and isolate us from the world beyond our garden walls.
Hole in the Garden Wall's all-embracing message, subtle visual metaphors, and penetrating wit and wisdom have never been more needed than right now.
Hole in the Garden Wall is Kohl’s personal tribute to all people who have struggled to express their unique individuality beyond the rules, roles, expectations, and beliefs imposed upon them by others. It was written to inspire all who seek to remove dust from their hearts so they might begin to live every day with greater authenticity, love, passion, and purpose.
Hole in the Garden Wall is a visual diary recording Kohl’s journey to find and express her own authentic voice, not the one confined by the edicts of others. It’s about living life beyond our comfort zones. It’s about deep feelings, human frailties, bold mistakes, and exhilarating triumphs—all eloquently expressed in image and verse.
Kohl’s original poetic verses and fine art photographs are exquisitely matched to tell a story of the risks taken and lessons learned while searching for the life she was born to live. Hole in the Garden Wall is her tribute to all who choose to become more than mere spectators in the drama of their own lives. It challenges you to change your viewing points, to rethink those cherished beliefs that separate what your head tells you to do from what your heart inspires you to be. It will touch you with the raw power of human feelings—the kind of power that invites change and initiates healing. And it does all this with exquisite subtlety.
Hole in the Garden Wall has inspired thousands to see beyond their garden walls—beyond the limitations imposed by prejudice, ignorance, intolerance, fear, and indifference. It offers a counterpoint for every bias that diminishes human dignity, the birthright of every individual on Earth.
Hole in the Garden Wall is a visual, poetic message for those courageous seekers who dare rise above the prejudice of closed minds in search of an inner strength for themselves that cannot be fatally insulted nor ever again denied and silenced.
It will touch your heart and soul so you might find the hole in your own garden wall that can set you free.
“It’s been a long time since I have read anything that reflected so much sensitivity, honesty, thought and foresight. Hole in the Garden Wall woke me up, allowed me to rediscover my true feelings, and set me on a more vibrant and alive life path. Thank you from the bottom of my heart and from my true voice that I will never again allow to be silenced.” -- F. Brock, Orange, CA
“Your photographs and verses made me stop and think. Each has a lesson to be learned. You have a wonderful ability to put words and images together and make them live in a person’s mind. You make a person feel, not just see.” -- L. Emler, Cambridge, OH
“I haven’t felt the same since receiving the book. I’ve read it and re-read it and still tremble from the inside out.” -- K. Collins, Greene, ME
“I expected a superior finished product, but never the insight and spiritual depth this book delivers.” -- P. Clapper, Clearwater, FL
“The universality of your message, your struggles, your fears and your successes touches each of us...” --E. Bartholemew, Albany, NY
“Once I had aspirations to become a photographer ... Then I met the woman who saw and captured on film and in words the feelings I could not verbalize. I met the woman that gave vision and verse to life as I know it can and must be.” -- W. Zabro, Bennington, VT
“We have independently seen the world through a similar window. Your photos and words struck a chord of hope within me and helped me choose the freedom of retirement to pursue the truly worthwhile things in life for however many creative years remain.” -- A. Strauss, Columbus, OH
“... Kohl’s attractive, simple style causes the reader to repeatedly visit the garden and be refreshed by her humor and frankness...The creative use of white space and riveting black-and-white and color photos makes for a beautiful work of art...” -- Cleveland Magazine
“...Her photos become our window into her insights. She asks ust o become, for a least a moment, children .... with hands cupped to shield our eyes from the glare of conformity, open to any and all possibilities...” -- Medina County Gazette
“Hole in the Garden Wall is not just a book of beautiful photographs and verse, as much as a journey ... that touches many aspects of the human condition, from loneliness, determination and change, to prejudice and freedom.” -- Chagrin Valley Times
The Impossible Dream
Voice From a Gettysburg Grave
A Miracle or Two
The Last and Great Alaska
The Golden Fleece
Fire and Ice
Good-bye Yellow Brick Road
To Michael, Wherever He Might Be
Message from Michael
If you believe as I do, that a person’s integrity and credibility are best measured by the experiences he or she has endured, then you will resonate with the following.
Mother’s vision for my future was that I should become a concert pianist. I studied piano from age three to 18. It was then I realized my hopes and dreams were not compatible with Mother’s vision. I wanted to follow my own bliss, even if I didn't know what bliss meant . Mother was not amused.
Surviving 18 years of formal schooling made me a master of academic choke and puke— don’t think, just regurgitate what your teachers tell you. It wasn’t until I became a teacher that I realized one must struggle to make sure formal education doesn't interfere with learning. One is a process. The other is a miracle.
I have walked into the valley of death with those I loved most in life. Helped them go into transition. Laid them gently in their graves. I learned to live in peace with their legacies and memories. Death taught me the deeper message behind the words “carpe diem”— seize the day.
There was a time when I measured the validity of my numerous achievements by the number of plaques, degrees, certificates, and awards displayed on my walls. Now I measure the validity of who I am by how brightly my light shines so others might find their way.
Whatever I have pursued, I pursued with all my heart. Sometimes I won the race, sometimes I lost. That’s what being fully alive is all about. On my journey beyond my garden wall, I have been frustrated, abandoned, reclaimed, and challenged so many times I learned how to tear down the barriers of my own self-imposed limitations. My reward for living fully and passionately was recovery of the life I was born to live. My joy is to help others achieve this same reward.
All of the master prints in Hole in the Garden Wall were taken with two 25-year-old Pentax 35mm Spotmatic cameras with no automatic anything except an in-camera light meter. I develop black and white prints in my own custom-designed darkroom. Alone with only my imagination and negatives, it is within the darkroom that my creative voice takes flight.
My greatest asset as a photographer is an innate gift for composition. Each time I speak to camera clubs or judge their competitions, I offer this simple piece of advice: don’t just shoot a picture; photograph what you feel about what you see. This is one expression of my singular belief — if you want people to think, first get them to feel.
I use words and images for reasons beyond pure technique. The printed word invites attention to language. It is the most effective medium for communicating ideas and ideas are what move society. Photography invites attention to images. It is an effective medium for conveying feelings, impressions, and emotions. By joining the power of ideas to the power of emotions I can tell a story neither words nor images alone could tell.
Regarding my signature “visual thought” process, I am often asked which comes first, the words or the image? If I have a very strong intuitive sense for a message I want to deliver, the words usually appear first. If the message remains subliminal, I compose the image first which then draws the words out of my imagination. On rare occasions, the words and image happen simultaneously. With the combined power of words and images, I can imply, allude, and weave multiple metaphorical layers into any composition of my choosing. Which is why almost every book plate master print and verse combination in Hole in the Garden Wall expresses much more than what is revealed at first glance.
All verses but three in Hole in the Garden Wall are original, inspired by those exceptional people who crossed my life’s path and moved me with their strength, wisdom, and humanity. The words are written in the language of the storyteller, orchestrated for the ear, not the eye.
Thank you for this chance to share my thoughts with you. I hope Hole in the Garden Wall will touch your heart and mind, inspire you to find the hole in your garden wall, and give flight to the butterfly deep inside you.
Any institution that makes its walls more important than its soul is doomed by its own egotism.
Author Prudence Kohl's achievements in writing, journalism, teaching, and photography have brought her respect and recognition from public figures and private citizens around the world. All her communication talents come together in the 156 pages of this unforgettable tribute to everyone who has the courage to rise above the prejudice of closed minds in search of an inner strength for themselves that can never again be silenced or denied.
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