The attention of reading makes a present case first made, however long ago, by poetry's attention to a kitten or a rose, a crow or a cataclysm. So Emerson was right to say, in "The American Scholar," that "There is then creative reading as well as creative writing," and the best poems are irresistible invitations to just such reading because the attention they have paid literally begets a present attention. The creative act is continuous, before, during, and after the poem.
Donald Revell argues passionately for the transformation that imaginative experience elicits through poetry. "The art of poetry is not about the acquisition of wiles or the deployment of strategies," Revell writes. "Beginning in the senses, imagination senses farther, senses more." Using examples from his own poetry and translation and from Blake and Thoreau to Ronald Johnson and John Ashbery, Revell's The Art of Attention: Who Made the Eyes But I? takes the writer beyond the workshop and into the world of vision.
Praise for Donald Revell:
"Revell is a writer of singular talent and ambition . . . he takes the reader to unfamiliar and strange places and, in the process, he creates some of the most beautiful poetry in our language.—The Harvard Review