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The Art of Attention: A Poet's Eye

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  125 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
The Art Of series is a new series of brief books by contemporary writers on important craft issues. Each book investigates an element of the craft of fiction, creative nonfiction, or poetry by discussing works by authors past and present. The books in the Art Of series are not strictly manuals, but serve readers and writers by illuminating aspects of the craft of writing t ...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published July 24th 2007 by Graywolf Press
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Tim Lepczyk
I'm going to try and not be flippant.  In order to save you time and money, I will condense  Donall Revell's book, The Art of Attention: A Poet's Eye , to one sentence.

Pay attention.

For those of you who have time for more than two words, I'll expand to three sentences.

1. Pay attention.
2. Fall in love with the world.
3. Write.

That aside, Revell does spend considerable time on select poems.  Those instances are worth reading, but can become tiresome as the same points are reiterated.
Jun 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Translaters, poets writing papers in school
Recommended to Julene by: a person standing at the Greywolf Press table at AWP.
Donald Revell starts out by saying that duration shapes a poem. That as you observe and reveal what you see the poem grows. Sounds simple. He uses examples from Denise Levertov, and Charles Olson.

He says, "I have a real dislike for the term "writer's block," a term that seems to imply an altogether fictional urgency. Nobody ever needs to write a poem, and how in the world can an absence prove a present impediment?" I do not use the term writer's block so resonated with this assertion, but I do f
Marco Kaye
Nov 06, 2010 rated it liked it
THE ART OF ATTENTION: A Poet’s Eye by Donald Revell

I will not pretend to be an expert on poetry. I saw this series of short books on writing published by the always excellent Graywolf Press, and this was the only one at the library. The title intrigued me and I wanted to know how a poet looks at the world.

I liked the parts of this book better than the whole. The individual sentences better than the larger point Revell was trying to make, which, to my mind, frequently lost its way.

Revell’s argum
Nov 01, 2013 rated it liked it
In the poetry of attention we therefore find a pious materialism. Sad and strange that these two notions -- piety and materialism -- should be so generally proposed (and opposed) as antitheses. Their separation banishes the eye to a wilderness of mirrors. It banishes poetry to a metaphysical preschool. It compels aggression, setting sanctity loose upon unimproved matters of fact, constructing God knows how many golf courses, both real and metaphorical, as it goes. (I fly each week of the academi ...more
May 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: True lookers
About looking. Light, negative, positive space, shapes, possibilities. Would be friends with Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek and John Berger's Ways of Seeing. I really liked the first two sections--on looking, and on translation. The translation essays reminded me (and I needed to be reminded) of a translation phase I went through that was really helpful in dealing with, well, for lack of a better term, "writer's block" (though I share his resistance to that term).

The bulk of this book
Grant Faulkner
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing
Every writer should read this entire series of writing books by Graywolf Press. This one was particularly instructive because it helped attune me to the different ways a writer needs to pay attention--which is important for someone like me, who is increasingly distracted and scattered.
Milton Brasher-Cunningham
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
One of the interesting things about "The Art Of . . ." series from Graywolf Press is that there is not a consistent tone from book to book, neither is there a set format. Each one has the author's fingerprints all over it. Revel's tone might be best described as devotional, even confessional. His description of what it means to pay attention, and how that translates into poetry has a deeply spiritual component about it, though not one that prescribes to a particular theology beyond attentiveness ...more
Dec 22, 2010 rated it it was ok
I'm working my way through the poetry books in this series over my winter break.

This book is divided into three parts. In Part I, Revell argues for careful attention to the things of the world in poetry. This creates, he argues, a kind of peace--having a "careless," spontaneous, and mostly nonrepresentational aesthetic leads to some kind of better poetry, and, he almost suggests, more sacred, as there is very much something spiritual (as well as qualitative) in his argument--the best poetry tel
Therese Broderick
Jul 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
The author informs us that "this entire little book is nothing but a gloss" on the line "Christ pupil of the eye." I don't believe in Christ's divinity, or in God, but I still enjoyed this mystical consideration of the essence of Poetry, an approach which focuses on the poet's Eye and I. Looking askance at the habits of many contemporary poets (babbling workshop mumbo jumbo, revising and crafting to excess, fussing over metaphors, laboring over line breaks, exalting the imagination over observat ...more
Aug 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
I do not know Donald Revell's poetry. I picked up a couple books in this series and began reading this one before Birkerts on time and the memoir. Revell casts off formalism and "effort" to advocate for his poetry of attention, an eye to/on the outside world and on a mystical reception of the poem by the poet. I might argue with such a conclusion stated so absolutely but his prose is wondrous and elusive enough to not offend (and what stakes do I really have in poetry debates anyway?). The firs ...more
Daniel Abdal-Hayy Moore
Dec 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Energetic prose on inspiration by Apollinaire's translator and poet (some people are born for certain things, like Kirk Douglas playing Van Gogh in that corny Hollywood version [and will I always associate Gaugin with Anthony Quinn?], but he LOOKS like him and has that sharp-edged edginess we associate with Vincent), so Revell has brought Guillaume to us in freshly steaming portions... This book treads that difficult terrain of aesthetics and spirituality, and has a slice of what Ginsberg called ...more
Ann Michael
May 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Alas, this book by Revell is not as sterling as I might have wished--anyway, it didn't inspire me or cause me to think in new ways about poetry or creative acts. I'm not sure if it is his prose style (which sounds as though it might be better delivered orally, in a talk) or the repetitiveness of some of his catch-phrases, or the possibility that I have simply read far too many books on poetry, poetics, creative writing, etc.

I agree with his premises whole-heartedly, but found little "new" in thi
Derek Reinhard
Feb 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Some very compelling essays/thoughts. I find reading Revell like eating wasabi, you have to just let it happen to you, otherwise it is a painful, undesirable experience. And I think that is how Revell wants us to look at poetry -- writing it doesn't require craft (I suppose he'd say poetry abhors craft); reading or writing poetry, there is to be trust and seeking to simply "see" at the most elemental level of the eye and of the mind.
Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it
The poems that Revell sited, and many of his insights about poetry are amazing. They challenge what I think about my favorite poems, and also helped me to think newly about poems I would, in the past, have dismissed as "unsurprising." I am utterly grateful for that. On the other hand, the book often felt overly analytic to me, like I was reading a text for a college course. I think this book is best read in small doses.
Dec 14, 2009 rated it it was ok
Book from a parallel universe. As the words entered my brain they evaporated. What did he say again??? Left unfinished.
Feb 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
very good indeed. better than i expected after the fiasco of charles baxter's volume, given that baxter is editor of the series.

some dubious moments, but at times rather perfect, in fact.
Ian Cattanach
Oct 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
UNLV brethren reppin the 702 nicely. Glad to have you contributing to this great city Professor Revell.
Roseanna Boswell
This book is a must-read for anyone who loves reading or writing poetry.

I want to have a coffee with Mr. Revell now, I think.
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Revell has won numerous honors and awards for his work, beginning with his first book, From the Abandoned Cities, which was a National Poetry Series winner. More recently, he won the 2004 Lenore Marshall Award and is a two-time winner of the PEN Center USA Award in poetry. He has also received the Gertrude Stein Award, two Shestack Prizes, two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from the National Endo ...more
More about Donald Revell...

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“As it turns out, craft is to poetry what invention is to imagination--not antithetical, but needless. The eye does not invent the light; there's no need. The mind makes no materials; it doesn't have to. Imagination is the present state of things, and poems rejoice--in particular, in detail--that this is so. Again, the only work is trust, a trust rewarded by ease and by betterment.” 2 likes
“The poetry of attention is not metaphysical. It trusts the opened eye to see. By faith, the eye stays open. And so the work of poetry is trust that, by faith, is shown to be no work at all.” 1 likes
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