Today, I am honored to host Poetics at dVerse Poets Pub: http://dversepoets.com/ I chose to discuss one of my favorite art elements: texture. I hope you will join us at the pub–enjoy a drink, good friends and outstanding poetry.
Photo of Ascot (RIP) D. Slotto
the morning of Friday before
light spills through blinds,
pools into discrete
at the foot of my bed.
Through the half-moon window
near the ceiling,
swatches of gray satin
unfurl across the sky.
Tears in the fabric
allow slices of blue to
toss hope in my face.
In that shadowy space between
asleep and awake
ideas pelt my brain
so I can’t escape back into
my dream about the circus
where I rode barefoot,
standing on the rough coat
of a white mare.
I slip into awareness.
Cold smooth wood
greets my feet as I stand
shakes his silky fur, glares at
me for interrupting his dreams.
We stretch, enter the day,
Today’s special at the bar: Margaritas…rimmed with salt to give you textural inspiration!
For today’s prompt I would like to turn to a tool that painters use in creating visual art: contrast. Contrast refers to the differences in color, value, texture, shape and so forth that add depth and excitement to the work. Without contrast, the outcome would be boring, monotonous. And so it is with life, don’t you agree?
I invite you to write a contrast poem or short piece of prose. You can work with color, opinions, light and dark–any two opposing concepts that you choose. Here’s mine:
Under a shade tree
the Buddha laughs. Sunspots dance
on his fat belly.
*Chiaroscuro: the artistic use of light and shade: the use of light and shade in paintings and drawings, or the effect produced by this.
Please link your poem in the comments section of this post and visit others who participate. Have fun with it.
The painting in the image is by abstract expressionist, Rothko.
One of the things that I marvel at during this time of the year is the abundance of color that adorns nature. Summer makes me want to grab my paints and portable easel and drag myself out into nature to capture the moment. It seems I rarely do, perhaps because of inconvenience or downright laziness, but I often pull out my palette of words and pen down some colorful poetry.
For today’s prompt, I’d like to you put on the mind, if not the smock of an artist and paint a word picture, lavishing color, shape, perspective, texture, mood–whatever artistic tool speaks to you.
Please link your masterpiece in the comment section of this blog and remember, I don’t believe in deadlines for these prompts, so do it whenever you can and have fun with it. And if you are a visual artist and care to share your work, have at it!
You may have already seen this poem…I think I posted it a while back:
I spent a good part of the morning at the museum, preparing for a tour on Friday for 4th graders. The feature exhibit is Chester Arnold, a contemporary California environmental artist. In the center of the gallery is a display of the tools Arnold uses to create his work: palettes, oils, brushes–all the implements of painters. I like to ask the children what kind of tools artists use. When they’ve replied as expected, I take it a step further and discuss the elements and principles of art such as color, line, shape, texture… As I was thinking about my tour strategy, the thought came to mind that, as writers, we employ some of these same tools to give depth, perspective, unity and beauty to our art. Here are a few (only a few) to consider:
Balance–how do you achieve balance in writing? In fiction, it’s important to consider variations of moods, pacing, narrative and dialogue. For example, if you are writing a thriller, give the reader a chance to catch his breath now and again. This can be done by using pacing techniques. Ramp up the intensity by using short sentences, fast-paced action then ease up and throw in a little scene of description or reflection. Balance dialogue with narrative. Too much of either overwhelms (or underwhelms.)
Color–yes, color. Bring color into descriptions but also into character. When I wrote the first draft of my first novel all the characters resembled one another and they were boring (probably because they were all like me!) Give those people inhabiting your pages flaws, tics, obsessions, cultural variations–whatever it takes to distinguish them one from another. I find it helpful to think of people I know and to use the Myers-Briggs when developing personalities. (You may want to refer to my previous post on Myers-Briggs).
Perspective. Add depth to your characters and story by subtly including background reference. This can be done by careful inclusion of flashbacks or in the course of conversations. Be careful not to take the reader out of the story, though. Another way to add perspective is by judicious use of point of view. Many writers advise staying in a single viewpoint. If that suits you, be sure to choose the character and the person (1st, 2nd, 3rd) that best suits your story. I like to shift points of view, usually keeping it to two or three maximum, with the protagonist maintaining center stage. If you do choose multiple points of view, be careful to differentiate by chapter or scene changes. Don’t confuse the reader.
I could go on and on, using the tools of art as a metaphor for writing, and perhaps I will in another post. I hope these considerations are helpful to you. I invite you to think about how they can be applied to poetry as well as fiction.