Thursday, August 4, 2011

A Poetry Review

Storm at Payne's Prairie 6 x 14

This is a thunderstorm over Gainesville and Payne’s Prairie. You probably recognize the image from a previous post. I took a photograph a couple of weeks ago at the elevated walkway on Highway 441. Painting it, and thinking about prairies, reminded me of my favorite book of poetry. Yes, I own a book of poetry. I wonder what percentage of the population owns an actual book of poetry? Is it more than, or less than the percentage that owns original art?
Anyway, if you don’t own a book of poetry, and you’re also interested in art, I recommend “The Art of Drowning” by Billy Collins. First of all, it will look good on your bookshelf. I don’t know how many people have pulled it out from between other books and asked “what is this?” Secondly, it’s a great read. The guy can do amazing things with words. There are also a number of poems with references to artists, paintings, sculptures and even the process of making art. In the poem “Medium” for example, he compares writing a poem to the process of painting.
. . .
I want to write with the least control,
one finger on the steering wheel,
to write like a watercolorist
whose brush persuades the liquids
to stay above the pull of gravity.
. . .

And my favorite poem in the book, and the reason this post is being written on this blog, and has anything to do with this painting, is the poem entitled “Horizon”


You can use the brush of a Japanese monk
or a pencil stub from a race track.

As long as you draw the line a third
the way up from the bottom of the page,

the effect is the same: the world suddenly
divided into its elemental realms.

A moment ago there was only a piece of paper.
Now there is earth and sky, sky and sea.

You were sitting alone in a small room.
Now you are walking in the heat of a vast desert

or standing on the ledge of a winter beach
watching the light on the water, light in the air.

When you are out on a big prairie you have this same feeling of space. I only wish I could do with my paint, half the justice Mr. Collins does with his words. So go buy this book and let me know what you think. And while you’re at it, how about buying some original art. : )
Thanks for looking.

Steve Andrews

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