Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From world to word

I'm happy to report that my little handbook for writers, THE ART OF DESCRIPTION, has just come out from Graywolf, and here's the first review -- a starred notice in PUBLISHERS' WEEKLY. I know it's immodest to pass along one's own reviews, but hey... this project has been a bit of a labor of love, and a while in the making, so I'm happy to see its first reviewer express pleasure in it, and happy to pass these words along:



The Art of Description: World into Word
Mark Doty, Graywolf, $12 (152p) ISBN 978-1-55597-563-0

"To use words at all is to use them figuratively," says Doty in his writing guide, part of Graywolf's "The Art of…" series. As both a National Book Award-winning poet (Fire to Fire) and accomplished memoirist (Dog Years), Doty is not only qualified but uniquely articulate on the subject. How does a poet create color? Landscape? Context? Saying "blue" or "field" means different things to different people, and also falls short of encompassing any kind of atmosphere or significance. "Poetry's project is to use every aspect of language to its maximum effectiveness, finding within it nuances and powers we otherwise could not hear," he says, and in order to capture the "texture of experience," the poet must be aware of what is actually in front of him or her, both physically and metaphorically. Because the simple act of looking involves interpretation, descriptions are, in a sense, "self portraits"--no two people see the same way, so the poet inevitably puts him or herself into each and every image. For Doty, the art of description is mostly "a balance between terms, saying what you SEE and saying what YOU see." (Aug.)

11 comments:

Mim said...

Cheers from Mim!

Then there is rhapsody. Isn't that YOU, the rhapsodist?

Nancy Devine said...

terrific to hear your book is out. do you think it is for writers or readers or both? i'm wondering because the red river valley writing project is having its summer institute and i'd love to be able to give a quick recommendation. (i co-direct rrvwp) we are drawing to a close, so i probably won't have your book before we're done.
i, of course, will get it and devour it.

Charlotte said...

Thanks for the heads-up about this, Mark. It looks like a great book to use in my fiction workshop.

peterjournalist said...

Thanks, Mark, for posting this. I'm sure it's wonderful to read such a kind review, and you're deservedly proud.

Peter

Peter Kent said...

While I'm just into reading the book, I've particularly enjoyed the section examining Elizabeth Bishop's "The Fish." I got my copy hot off the press, directly from Graywolf, when I stopped by their office in Minneapolis this week to pay homage to one of the finest small publishers of poetry and books on the craft of poetry in the country. Thanks, Mark, for persevering to bring your thoughts on description to print!

lu said...

Of course we will feature it at Watermark Books and Cafe in Wichita, Kansas! Our owner is now on the board of ABA. Come to the Midwest!

Peter said...

Sounds like a wonderful book, Mark. I'll look for it.

Susan Rich said...

I loved your comments on ekphrastic art when you were interviewed at the end of your Seattle Arts and Lectures talk this spring. Can't wait to read this - It should be out in the world (Seattle world) this week Thanks!

jimmydubb said...

Fantastic, Mark--our workshop at Juniper was great, and I'm glad to see that this is being released. Graywolf's site says August, but Amazon is telling me that it was published....today!

Rosetta said...

Looking forward to receiving your new book here in New Zealand. God Bless internet shopping.

Esther Greenleaf Murer said...

I finished reading (savoring) it yesterday. I think it will be very helpful to my own writing.

Loved the exposition of QUEER!

Esther Greenleaf Murer