1/23/2006
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Probably should have just uploaded a picture image of this short piece, but here, for all you flickr poets, is a quick flashback to Levertov's "Looking at Photographs." I trimmed it down a wee bit:
...Yet I have come to see that the art of photography [in contrast with painting] shares with poetry a factor more fundamental: it makes its images by means anybody and everybody uses for the most banal purposes, just as poetry makes its structures, its indivisibilities of music and meaning, out of the same language used for utilitarian purposes, for idle chatter, or for uninspired lying.

Because of this resemblance in the conditions of the two arts—because the camera, like language, is put to constant nonartistic use, quotidian use by nonspecialists, as the painter’s materials (though often misused) are not—a poet finds, I think, a kind of stimulation and confirmation in experiencing the work of photographic artists that is more specific, closer to his poetic activity, than the pleasure and love he feels in looking at paintings. I can often turn to fine photographs to help myself discover next steps in a poem I am writing: almost it’s as if I can respond to such photographs because I’m a working poet, while my response to painting, intense though it is, is in some degree detached from my life as active artist, is a more passive receptivity.

Even though one may never write a poem directly inspired by a photograph, these images drawn from the same sources the poet’s own eye can see (photography having, even at its most individual, subjective, or transformational, a relationship to the optical far more basic than that of painting) and which are transformed into high art through a medium of unexotic availability, connect at a deep level with the poetic activity; and are, in fact, possible source as nature is source—for the poet, to a degree that paintings are not, even to someone who loves them as much as I do. Perhaps another way of saying it would be that photographs—and I don’t mean only documentary photographs—teach the poet to see better, or renew his seeing, in ways closer to the kind of seeing he needs to do for his own work, than paintings do; while the stimulus of paintings for the poet as poet, i.e., their specific value for him aside from his general human enjoyment of them, may have more to do with his compositional gesture-sense (as music may) than with the visual.

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Blogger ike said ... (9:00 PM) : 

i painted my bed so it would stop rusting.

 

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