The Art of Seeing

We look, but we don’t see. David Hockney said, “Teaching people to draw is teaching people to look.” The same goes for poetry and writing. Seeing doesn’t mean just looking, glancing, or observing. It goes deeper. In The Art of Description, Mark Doty writes, “People who have studied drawing know that you have little idea what’s in front of you in the visual landscape until you try to represent it. . . what is required, in order to say what you see, is enhanced attention to that looking.” Writing is as much an art of seeing as drawing. A skilled artist travels beyond the visual to include the other physical senses — listening, tasting, smelling, touching. When we see with our minds and hearts, we tap into spiritual and imaginary realms as well. Once we perceive the pulses of energies and interconnections entwined with our sensual realities, we have a greater ability to write (or paint/dance/draw) them.

The Language of Autumn

I came up with a list of words descriptive of autumn:

amber gold key russet bronze moss silver mist pumpkin

brass fog stone apricot hawk lamp brick dessicated

persimmon mulch humid rain wizened globe branch stalk

ghost ship wisp metal plump hunger sumac camouflage

pomegranate scarlet ladle slate cone chimney onion rustle

bones pheasant skeleton vermilion cemetery candelabra shroud husk

crow onyx scatter slither mauve spoon shadow mask coal

shimmer tone somnambulist puppet cider spice crown darkness

In John Keats’ famous poem “To Autumn,” we find the following words:

season mists mellow fruitfulness close maturing vines apples

ripeness swell gourd kernel plump o’er-brimm’d clammy winnowing

furrow fume poppies hook swath twined gleaner laden

oozings soft-dying rosy stubble choir mourn sallows bleat

hedge treble croft swallows twitter

Here is the poem I write (somewhat) spontaneously from my list of words:

gold key in metal
grinds gears
to cross the new inevitable threshold
into bronze and silver
plump cone of seed

the Cooper’s Hawk
camouflaged in a starve
of branches
surveys the lush
of chimney and vermilion

his treasure trove
of scatter and slither
shimmers in the final
slant of bright pumiced
between slate and apricot sky

his masked eyes
scan the deepening
shrouded globe of dusk
recording twigs of movement
in the wild outside

his lidless stare
penetrates the dark reflections
of our lives
ladled out in
shadowed spoons of unreal light

encased in false warmth
a shiver enters
our fragile bones

The Art of Description

The Bridge in Autumn. Copyright 2012 by Annie Seikonia.

This new website is my first attempt at a more professional showcase for my writing and artwork, a place where I plan to chronicle my writing process, philosophy and inspirations.

My current inspiration is a sweet little book called The Art of Description (World into Word) by Mark Doty, published by Graywolf Press. It is from “The Art of” series edited by one of my all-time favorite authors, Charles Baxter, whose essays on writing published in Burning Down the House are humorous and perceptive. The poet and memoirist Mark Doty is an ongoing inspiration.  In his words:  “The pleasure of recognizing a described world is no small thing.”
The Art of series is “a line of books reinvigorating the practice of craft and criticism.”  Other authors include Sven Birkerts, Amy Bloom, James Longenback, ZZ Packer, Donald REvell, Joan Silber, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Dean Young and Baxter himself.