Five Photos of New Orleans, post the Levee Disaster (after Hurricane Katrina), 2005
This was what I found on the street I used to live on in New Orleans, months after Hurricane Katrina.
Of course, the hurricane isn’t really what caused most of the devastation, it was the breaches in the
levee system, a human-made disaster. ADT is an American company that install home security systems.
Often times, when hurricanes were coming, we'd have hurricane parties. Outside this
house, a bible was drying on the hood of a car, and the only thing protected inside were
the dresses in the wardrobe. Thankfully, the O on the only door standing indicated no
bodies were found.
Young people came from all over the US and entered the wrecks of people's homes,
swept debris, looked for treasures and made altars. On return to their devastated
houses, the first thing the homeowners would be met with was a gesture of care.
This was all that was left of my neighbour’s flag. Quite relevant for the political storms America is in,
we in the UK are in 14 years on.
In the gardens of many of the houses, still carrying the tattoo of the receding water lines around their
peripheries were constellations of sunflowers, washed from bird feeders. Despite the absence of bird song, the flowers
erupting through the debris were faces of hope, a reminder that colour and shine would return.
The first and last photos accompanied my article ‘Might Need Some Work,’ in Planet Magazine:
The Welsh Internationalist, August 2006
all ©clare e. potter
clare e. potter is a writer and performer from a South Wales mining village. She lived for ten years in the Deep South where she studied an MA in Afro-Caribbean literature and taught in a progressive school in New Orleans. She won the John Tripp Award for Spoken Poetry, and the Jim Criddle prize for celebrating the Welsh language in Literature. Her first poetry collection spilling histories (2006) will shortly be followed by a subsequent collection, A Certain Darkness, for which she was awarded a Literature Wales writing bursary. clare conceived of and directed the BBC It's My Shout documentary The Wall and the Mirror.
In 2016 she received Arts Council Wales funding for a poetry and jazz collaboration to respond to the trauma of Hurricane Katrina. She has written for the Welsh National Opera in community theatre and singing projects, and has received various commissions to write poetry in collaboration with artists: a poem for the new Keir Hardie Health Park, street poetry in the pavements of Pontypridd, and washing lines in Tredegar. for example. clare was poet-in-residence for the Landmark Trust during the two year restoration of medieval house, Llwyn Celyn; was poet-in-residence at Moravian Academy in Pennsylvania, and for the Wales Arts Review for a month.
clare has translated the work of the National Poet of Wales, was a Hay Festival Writer at Work for two years, and has performed at the Smithsonian Folk-Life Festival in the USA. She is currently working on a new poetry collection about craftspeople thanks to another Literature Wales bursary. clare has been widely published in magazines, anthologies and literary journals in the UK and USA and has acted in two films. Her biggest passion is working in schools and on community projects with other artists
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