Monthly Archives: April 2015

Ellen Bass

“If You Knew”

What if you knew you’d be the last
to touch someone?
If you were taking tickets, for example,
at the theater, tearing them,
giving back the ragged stubs,
you might take care to touch that palm,
brush your fingertips
along the lifeline’s crease.

When a man pulls his wheeled suitcase
too slowly through the airport, when
the car in front of me doesn’t signal,
when the clerk at the pharmacy
won’t say Thank you, I don’t remember
they’re going to die.

A friend told me she’d been with her aunt.
they’d just had lunch and the waiter,
a young gay man with plum black eyes,
joked as he served the coffee, kissed
her aunt’s powdered cheek when they left.
Then they walked half a block and her aunt
dropped dead on the sidewalk.

How close does the dragon’s spume
have to come? How wide does the crack
in heaven have to split?
What would people look like
if we could see them as they are,
soaked in honey, stung and swollen,
reckless, pinned against time?


Brimming with Whistling

” What I like to do is treat words as a craftsman does his wood or stone or what – you – have, to hew, carve, mould, coil, polish. and plane them into patterns, sequences, sculptures, figures of sound expressing some lyrical impulse, some spiritual doubt or conviction, some dimly realized truth that I must try to reach and realize.”

Dylan Thomas

The Power of Poetry

Just before his teacher Oda Sessa Roshi died, Gary Snyder, having stopped writing for six years in order to be ‘ serious ‘ about Zen, said to his teacher in the hospital: ” Roshi! So it’s Zen that is serious, poetry is not serious.” The Roshi replied, ” No, no – poetry is serious! Zen is not serious.”

Gail Sher


” Good poetry comes out of a condition of intensified consciousness. Poems, if they are good, are the manifestation in language of a heightened and deepened attention – their music is intensified, and out of that enlarged attention new knowledge comes.”

Jane Hirshfield



Poetry is about slowing down, I think. It’s about reading the same

thing again and again, really savoring it, living inside the poem.

There’s no rush to find out what happens in a poem. It’s really about

feeling one syllable rubbing against another, one word giving way

to another, and sensing the justice of that relationship between one

word, the next, the next, the next

Mark Strand

Art Quotes

“I paint objects as I think them, not as I see them. “


“No, I ask it for the knowledge of a lifetime.”

Whistler, (1834 – 1903) painter. Replying to the taunt, during the Ruskin trial, that he was asking a fee of 200 guineas for two days’ painting.

“When Michelangelo finished the painting of the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, he spent the rest of his life trying to remove the paint that had poured into his sleeve.”

Franscois Cavanna

“Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.”

Scott Adams – The Dilbert Principle

” My religion is my art; for me, it’s everything in life.”

Gwen John

“The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work. ”

Emile Zola

Augustus John being interviewed in the last few years of his life by Malcolm Muggeridge:

“ Another hundred years and I will be a great painter. “

“Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has known.”

Oscar Wilde

“Poets and painters are outside the class system, or rather they constitute a special class of their own, like the circus people and the gipsies.”

Gerald Brenan

” What is an artist? For every thousand people there’s nine hundred doing the work, ninety doing well, nine doing good, and one lucky bastard who’s the artist.”

Tom Stoppard

” It is comparatively easy to achieve a certain unity in a picture by allowing one colour to dominate, or by muting all the colours. Matisse did neither. He clashed his colours together like cymbals and the effect was like a lullaby.”

John Berger

“One of the reasons why medieval and renaissance architecture is so much better than our own is that the architects were artists. Bernini, one of the great artists of seventeenth-century Rome, was a sculptor.”

Kenneth Clark

“ I do not paint a portrait to look like the subject, rather  the person grows to look like his portrait. “

Salvador Dali

Henri Cartier Bresson

“Sometimes it happens that you stall, delay, wait for something to happen. Sometimes you have the feeling that here are all the makings of a picture— except for just one thing that seems to be missing. But what one thing? Perhaps someone suddenly walks into your range of view. You follow his progress through the viewfinder. You wait and wait, and then finally you press the button— and you depart with the feeling (though you don’t know why) that you’ve really got something.”

“Later, to substantiate this, you take a print of this picture, trace on it the geometric figures which come up under analysis, and you’ll observe that, if the shutter was released at the decisive moment, you have instinctively fixed a geometric pattern without which the photograph would have been both formless and lifeless.”

“Composition must be one of our constant preoccupations, but at the moment of shooting it can stem only from our intuition, for we are out to capture the fugitive moment, and all the interrelationships involved are on the move. In applying the Golden Rule, the only pair of compasses at the photographer’s disposal is his own pair of eyes. Any geometrical analysis, any reducing of the picture to a schema, can be done only (because of its very nature) after the photograph has been taken, developed, and printed— and then it can be used only for a post-mortem examination of the picture. I hope we will never see the day when photo shops sell little schema grills to clamp onto our viewfinders; and that the Golden Rule will never be found etched on our ground glass.”

“If you start cutting or cropping a good photograph, it means death to the geometrically correct interplay of proportions. Besides, it very rarely happens that a photograph which was feebly composed can be saved by reconstruction of its composition under the darkroom’s enlarger; the integrity of vision is no longer there. There is a lot of talk about camera angles; but the only valid angles in existence are the angles of the geometry of composition and not the ones fabricated by the photographer who falls flat on his stomach or performs other antics to procure his effects.”

“For me, content cannot be separated from form. By form, I mean a rigorous organization of the interplay of surfaces, lines, and values. It is in this organization alone that our conceptions and emotions become concrete and communicable. In photography, visual organization can stem only from a developed instinct.”

“Though it is difficult to foresee exactly how color photography is going to grow in photo-reporting, it seems certain that it requires a new attitude of mind, an approach different than that which is appropriate for black and white. Personally, I am half afraid that this complex new element may tend to prejudice the achievement of the life and movement which is often caught by black and white.”

“Technique is important only insofar as you must master it in order to communicate what you see. Your own personal technique has to be created and adapted solely in order to make your vision effective on film. But only the results count, and the conclusive evidence is the finished photographic print; otherwise there would be no end to the number of tales photographers would tell about pictures which they ever-so-nearly got— but which are merely a memory in the eye of the nostalgia.”

“It is enough if a photographer feels at ease with his camera, and if it is appropriate to the job which he wants it to do. The actual handling of the camera, its stops, its exposure-speeds and all the rest of it, are things which should be as automatic as the changing of gears in an automobile. It is no part of my business to go into the details or refinements of any of these operations, even the most complicated ones, for they are all set forth with military precision in the manuals which the manufacturers provide along with the camera and the nice, orange calf-skin case. If the camera is a beautiful gadget, we should progress beyond that stage at least in conversation. The same applies to the how’s and whys of making pretty prints in the darkroom.”

“ We photographers, in the course of taking pictures, inevitably make a judgment on what we see, and that implies a great responsibility.”

“There are other ways of communicating our photographs than through publication in magazines. Exhibitions, for instance; and the book form, which is almost a form of permanent exhibition.”