Existence itself is nothing if not an amazement

I’m reading Ten Windows by Jane Hirshfield. It’s a great book, a book to read slowly, to partake in. And it is a text very relevant to my ongoing investigation in the uses of art – listen to this:

Poïesis as making

  • A work of art is not a piece of fruit lifted from a branch: it is a ripening collaboration of artist, receiver, and world.
  • A poem is not the outer event or phenomenon it ostensibly describes, nor is it the feeling or insight it may seem to reveal or evoke. A poem may involve both, but is, more complexly, a living fabrication of new comprehension – “fabrication” meaning, not accidentally, both lie, falsehood, and more simply and fundamentally, anything created and made: the bringing of something freshly into being.
  • Poems lean toward increase of meaning, feeling, and being.
  • The writing of poems must be counted as much a contemplative practice as a communicative one.
  • The desire of monks and mystics is not unlike that of artists: to perceive the extraordinary by changing not the world, but the eyes that look.
Andre-Kertesz-man-reading-002André Kertész

Here is a clip from HuffPost

Q: What is the most important thing to do when reading a poem?

Jane Hirshfield: Listen, without worrying too quickly about whether you understand or not. Give yourself over to a poem the way you give yourself over to your own night dreaming, or to a beloved’s tales of the day. And then, try to listen first to a poem the way you might listen to a piece of music — the meaning of music isn’t some note by note analysis or paraphrase, it’s to find yourself moved.

Q: How does reading poetry change us as people?

Jane Hirshfield: It makes us more permeable, more compassionate, more rigorous, and, in needed ways, smarter. I mean that in the broadest sense: more awake and alert to subtlety and connection, more open to new feelings and new understandings. Empathy with not only people but ants and trees and mountains; sound-work’s lattice, on which surprises of thought can climb; developing the capacity for abiding in the complex and multiple and open — all these things make us smarter.

I don’t, though, want to put forward some idea of poems as primarily useful. Or at least, let me say this: one way poems may be useful is by showing how thin usefulness is.

André Kertész

Good poems restore amazement

A world of relative inaccessibility Aesthetics AM art criticism art writing Jane Hirshfield Poetry uses of art

Sigrun View All →

sketcher, reader, writer

5 Comments Leave a comment

  1. “… to perceive the extraordinary by changing not the world, but the eyes that look.” Inspiring quotes. Interesting how you used them 😉 to ponder on the topic you’ve been exploring, the uses of art.

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