Painting isn’t great poetry practice.

Sound has always been at an arm’s length. Before this I only painted.

The fundamental gulf between art and sound is so deep that they are complete polar opposites in almost every way. Sound is flowing, formless, fleeting and transient. It moves on regardless of your processing of it. And then it’s over, gone. A painting is silent, unchanging, tangible, concrete.

I have never picked up an instrument, and you can tell from my poems. The syllables in a line are never the same,  rhyme scheme is a fleeting hurdle. Meter and melopoeia are absent.  I don’t know much about sound, and it shows.

Overbearing visuals and antiquated didactism are what I need to break away from as a crutch for lyricism. There is a delicate balance between these two gulfs, which we would just call good poetry. As much as I’d like to walk away from sound entirely, it’s difficult when poetry itself is rooted in spoken verse- and just an extension of language. Our idea of poetry, too, is inherently musical. The word itself conjures rhyme more than insight or epiphany. Language as a auditory medium will gravitate towards melody, the same way  visual art gravitates towards what is pleasing to the eye. Turning away from sound for didact would contradict the medium.


3 Replies to “Painting isn’t great poetry practice.”

  1. Nick,

    I appreciate this post, and the thoughtful comparison and contrast between sound, poetry, and art. While thinking about it, it is crazy to imagine that sound literally is just vibration. So shouldn’t it be impossible to relay while looking at some sort of medium like words or paint?

    This is very interesting to this about, because while looking at a certain painting, it is east to conjure up and emotion and auditory response in your head. Either of busy streets, or the ocean, or some sort of rhythmic and melodic quality.

    So from your blog, it has inspired me to think more thoughtfully about what I ‘hear’ at first glance, or read.


  2. Hi Nick,

    I agree with Julia’s appreciation for this post. It reminded me of my own writing, and the habits I still struggle to shake off a bit. Visual descriptions are something I tend to lean heavily on. When you mentioned painting, I remembered that I once had a passion for art (I was always drawing), and maybe my old instincts to create a clear picture followed me in my writing. I try to work with all the senses, but I don’t quite know how to do that effectively.

    So this is one of the things about the class I’m looking forward to most. I’m excited to get the chance to learn, experience, and play with sound in my writing. I love sound and music, and want to be able to create it in a different way.


  3. Nick~
    I was extremely intrigued by your idea that “language as a auditory medium will gravitate towards melody, the same way visual art gravitates towards what is pleasing to the eye.” I’ve been thinking about these two opposing art forms as well.
    I’ll admit that I don’t have a good eye for art. At times, I find it heavily obscure and confusing. I’ve never properly attempted to create art beyond the mandatory art class, and I have no plans to. But there is something about the art form of language that ultimately appeals to me.
    As you stated, language is auditory. But, when spoken in a common language, words are unifiers. They often bridge the gap between people. Simply saying “Hello” to someone is extending the bridge of communication to a stranger, or friends. Language connects people. In poetry, the words are strung together in sometimes abstract, and defying ways. But I understand a strangely-worded phrase better than art. This makes me think that art is extremely internal; it is a reflection of the canvas of the mind. Poetry, or any type of literature, is the aural form of art manifested with language, and because it is written using a sense that is physical, I understand writing better than art.
    I have a great appreciation for artists, poets, and prose writers. They encompass the canvas of the mind, and give it life. But the interior nature of art unfortunately is not present in my brain.

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