Book Review: The Art Of Description by Mark Doty | #SmartReads

| BreakawayConciousness
Zy Marquiez
June 20, 2017

The Art Of Description is a very refreshing no frills examination of the many ways description can be employed in writing.

Unorthodox in its approach, subtle, and yet quite insightful, Doty not only brings about compelling analysis of a  smattering of writing styles, but also urges the reader to master their individual skill of observation.

On this, Doty cogently writes:

“To some degree, the art of description is the art of perception; what is required, in order to say what you see, is enhanced attention to that looking and the more you look, the more information you get….The resulting visual journey can feel intricate indeed; it makes us see the world before us as composed not of discrete things that don’t touch, but as a continuous realm of interconnected lines.

To be better at description, we have to work at attentiveness.”[1]

Beyond such insight, the author incisively samples the writing of individuals such as Blake, Pound, Swenson, Shelley, Ginsberg, Cummings, et al, thoughtfully ruminating upon particular gems that these writers have left for individuals to glean upon.  Sampling such range in writing allows the reader to see a wider range of styles, each offering a varying, yet exquisite taste, all of which helps solidify the writer’s repertoire.

Another point the Doty centers upon is what can be learned from poetry.  Echoing the actions of Benjamin Franklin, who once used poetry to expand his vocabulary and writing prowess, the author notes:

“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.  So the poet needs to be a supreme handler of the figurative speech we all use every day, employing language’s tendency to connect like and disparate things to the richest possible effects.  In poetry, figuration is at its most sophisticated; condensed, alive with meaning, pointing in multiple directions at once….It’s one of the poet’s primary tools for conveying the texture of experience, and for inquiring into experience in search for meaning.”[2]

Such an examination aids the reader  in gaining a deeper understanding of the depth and precision that may be employed when writing poetry.  Coming to terms with this, one is also able to thoughtfully approach the art of writing from a more mindful perspective that allows individuals a much wider latitude from which to compose a piece.

At another juncture, Doty shares a sentiment that calls to mind Edgar Allen Poe’s wondrous definition of poetry when he said, “Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words.”  The author beautifully observes that:

“Every achieved poem inscribes a perceptual signature in the world.”[3]

Just as the creative ventures of artists from time immemorial echo into the present, so will the poems of the present echo into the future, continuously leaving dashes of beauty with their very essence.

The Art Of Description is a discerning read in its entirety, that is experienced in its approach, and shrewd in its execution.  If you’re seeking a new writing path that will not only be novel, but will also teach you how to create your very own path, or perhaps even finetune your old one, then begin right here.


[1] Mark Doty, The Art Of Description, p. 72.
[2] Ibid., p. 76.
[3] Ibid., p. 21.
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About The Author:

Zy Marquiez is an avid book reviewer, inquirer, an open-minded skeptic, yogi, and freelance writer who studies and mirrors regularly subjects like Consciousness, Education, Creativity, The Individual, Ancient History & Ancient Civilizations, Forbidden Archaeology, Big Pharma, Alternative Health, Space, Geoengineering, Social Engineering, Propaganda, and much more.

His other blog, features mainly his personal work, while serves as a media portal which mirrors vital information nigh always ignored by mainstream press, but still highly crucial to our individual understanding of various facets of the world.