Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Weekly Workshop: Upside Down

This technique comes from art class. Remember art? Those of us born before 1990 probably relish those bygone days when things like art and music were actually valued in school. Our elementary school art teacher, Mr. Pratt, was a quiet and calm man with light brown hair and a soft smile. When we first learned drawing techniques, copying images from magazines, he would urge us to turn our pictures upside down. This forced us to pay more attention to lines, shapes, and shadows, rather than the finished product. It helped immensely to see in a different way.

Upside Down Figures by Joan Miro

Poetry is another way of seeing differently. Why describe an art teacher as "quiet and calm with light brown hair and a soft smile," when you can say something like this:

a chin templed, something smooth
about the way skin rose, parted,
became eyes or a brown shadow
behind the portables.

Turn whatever you're writing about upside down. Look at the parts rather than the whole. Write accordingly.

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