Poetry and art

A colleague pointed out art critic Holland Cotter’s New York Times piece as a must-read for me with my interests in both disciplines. Here is the link to Cotter’s essay in the “First Crush” series the Times runs: Cotter August 13, 2013.

Cotter says the first love was language, specifically poetry, especially Longfellow and Dickinson.

“If you fall for Dickinson early, you’re committed to language for life, and almost unavoidably to Dickinson’s kind of language. It’s more concrete than just words on a page or in the air. It’s language as a physical material, a substance so concentrated that you can all but hold it in your hands, turn it over, feel its textures.

And it’s addictive. Once in your system, it’s impossible to shake, like a neurological imprint. In my experience, Longfellow’s intensely visual poetry was like a mural or a movie. You just wanted to stand back and let it happen to you. Dickinson’s language was visual, too, but in a startling, flashbulb way — a bang of illumination after which your vision took time to adjust to normal light.

Poetry, in general, made me sense that language could be about big, urgent subjects, the kind that ruffled even a 9-year-old mind. Will everyone I love always be here? If not, where, exactly, is heaven, and what does it look like? Perhaps most important to a writer in formation, Dickinson’s language felt personally usable. It made you want to write, made you think you could. So I did, just for the pleasure and power of creating pictures from words.”

What can I add but “Amen to that”?

It interests me greatly, though, that Cotter made his trajectory from poetry to art; my path went the other direction. I began with a fascination for and study of art and ended up as a writer.

Overlaps and linkages, interdiscipline & creativity. Big, urgent subjects…a kind of power. That’s art.

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2 comments on “Poetry and art

  1. Beejay Grob says:

    This was an enjoyable post! Hit home. Thanks Ann.

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