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The Art of Description: World into Word [Paperback]

by Mark Doty
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 20, 2010 1555975631 978-1555975630
“It sounds like a simple thing, to say what you see,” Mark Doty begins. “But try to find words for the shades of a mottled sassafras leaf, or the reflectivity of a bay on an August morning, or the very beginnings of desire stirring in the gaze of someone looking right into your eyes . . .” Doty finds refuge in the sensory experience found in poems by Blake, Whitman, Bishop, and others. The Art of Description is an invaluable book by one of America’s most revered writers and teachers.

Frequently Bought Together

The Art of Description: World into Word + The Art of Syntax: Rhythm of Thought, Rhythm of Song + The Art of the Poetic Line
Price for all three: $28.69

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

MARK DOTY is the author of eight collections of poetry, including Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems, which won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2008. He teaches at Rutgers University and lives in New York.

Product Details

  • Series: The Art of
  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Graywolf Press (July 20, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1555975631
  • ISBN-13: 978-1555975630
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 5.9 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,104 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent June 2, 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a thought-provoking little book -- ostensibly an essay about the art of writing, but also about reading, thinking, living. A total delight!
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Succinct September 13, 2011
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Seldom has a writer been as thoughtful and incisive in his literary comments about poetry. Mark Doty's references are useful and broad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very insightful & useful January 20, 2013
By Roy
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written from a poet's perspective the book provides enlightening insights into crafting artful description for any writer. The author's metaphors and allegories of human thought evoked while reading artful description are particularly revealing. A worthwhile purchase for any writer from poet to lawyer.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Luminescent August 24, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Something luminescent produces its own light, glows from within. In such creatures as deep sea fishes it involves a complex chemical reaction between an enzyme called luciferase, oxygen, and organic molecules. Here it is produced by the examples chosen by Mark Doty, his own poetic talents, and especially the always evident joy and astonishment of discovery that infects Doty as he deals with the material.

The examples used are of enormous scope and variety, representing, at times, different substances within poetry. Thus we have Shelley and EE Cummings, Hayden Carruth and (briefly) Hart Crane, William Blake and Elizabeth Bishop. There are examples from Barnwell, Swenson, Galvin, Hopkins, Pound, Hull, Morling, and Wislawa Szymborska, and many more besides. Each one is a variant, a slight dappling of the patterns of description of the interior self, of polarities existing simultaneously, and/or of pieces of the unknowable found with close examinations of the world, within attempts to put those examinations into words.

This book is a small masterpiece, full of nuance and subtlety. It is readable again and again for those nuances, for the interior brightness of its own writing, but, in the largest portion, for the palpable sense of sharing a deep joy that Doty brings to his task. It is a book to love, to dog ear, to spill coffee on; in short, to live with.

Do not be dissuaded by others who question interpretations or found the writing dense. If you read and/or write any kind of poetry, this work of Mark Doty's will return full (and then some, I suspect) value from whatever effort you bring to it. I bought three of these "Art of" books together (Line and Syntax also) and while I liked the others, I loved this luminescent little volume. Most highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Read February 12, 2014
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Every page offered up something worthwhile. It is more than a book on writing--it is a book on how to observe the world around us. I have not read any of his poetry but plan to now! I recommend this highly to all writers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Bird Song March 7, 2013
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The Art of Description: World into WordGreat, a clear cut road to perception and finding someone that writes of such things is totally amazing. Only five pages and I smiled at the sun out my window and told how grateful I was to find the key to a new door. Amazon you know folks best, thanks!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow February 16, 2013
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Doty articulates important concepts and experiences in this book, unlocking mysteries of reading poetry that before, we only intuited. Awesome.
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4.0 out of 5 stars What's another word for description? February 13, 2013
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This book eloquently describes the art of poetic description. In detail, it explains the nuance and understanding of describing the world around us.
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