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The Art of Description: World into Word (Art…

The Art of Description: World into Word (Art of...)

by Mark Doty

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This small, potent volume (part of The Art of Series edited by the phenomenal writer and critic Charles Baxter) is essential for anyone who cares about writing, poetry and/or the art of description. Even if you're not a poet or a writer, these short essays include thoughts on nature, seeing, art, philosophy and consciousness. A brief and brilliant work by one of America's foremost poets. ( )
  aseikonia | Nov 25, 2012 |
An enjoyable (if a little light) series of musings about the art of description – how it is done (well and badly), why it is done, and some of the less-well-known techniques available to a poet to deepen the texture of something that might otherwise seem ‘mere description’. Lots of examples from other people's poems, although these close readings got lighter and shorter as the book went on. A highlight for me was his detailed examination of Elizabeth Bishop's “The Fish” – if the whole book had been at this level, it would be an easy five stars. As it is, the book tails off into shorter and shorter comments, rather than commentaries.

Enjoyable and informative, and something that should be accessible to poets and non-poets alike.
I just wish he'd continued in the way he began. ( )
  joannasephine | Nov 14, 2010 |
Reading "The Art of Description" schooled me in just how difficult writing descriptions can be. The first essay in poet Mark Doty's book was the best of his work. In it he wrote, "... the attempt to render visual intricacy makes words feel unwieldy, like sacks of meaning that must be lugged into place, dragged here and there, then still don't feel quite accurate." He captured in that sentence, my own frustrations in describing events.

Mr. Doty cited many poetic examples in his essays. Commenting on them, he taught me to see ways of describing without using adjectives and adverbs. That was the strength of the book for me.

The weakness of the book was mostly in the second half. Mr. Doty used the English language alphabet as a framework for identifying words about description. The method proved not very instructive. In spite of this weakness, I will happily add this book to my library on writing skills and return to it periodically to learn more from it's pages.

(I received a free copy for review.) ( )
  LynndaEll | Jul 17, 2010 |
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"The art of description: world into word is part of The Art of series, a line of books by important authors on the craft of writing, edited by Charles Baxter. Each book examines a singular, but often assumed or neglected, issue facing the contemporary writer of fiction, nonfiction, or poetry. The art of series is meant to restore the art of criticism while illuminating the art of writing."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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