look again

In a 1984 Paris Review interview, the writer James Baldwin said the following:

I remember standing on a street corner with the black painter Beauford Delaney down in the Village, waiting for the light to change, and he pointed down and said, “Look.” I looked and all I saw was water. And he said, “Look again,” which I did, and I saw oil on the water and the city reflected in the puddle. It was a great revelation to me. I can’t explain it. He taught me how to see, and how to trust what I saw. Painters have often taught writers how to see. And once you’ve had that experience, you see differently.

Many of you are visual artists as well as writers. I’m not. But I’ve become a much more visual person in the last few years. I think maybe this blog is my nudge to look again. To be more aware of the world around me.

These days, with writing, instead of having ideas, I’m seeing scenes. Maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten out of my own way. My thinking has gotten out of the way of my…something.

When I started with the words of James Baldwin, I didn’t realize I would end up with something, but that’s as far as I have time to go with this today…

the wash


There’s something about the wash hanging outside a window that pulls me toward it–almost like the feeling I have for row houses.  “The task of finding your key images is lifework,” Georgia Heard wrote.

Oddly, though, with the wash, it’s the differences that attract me; whereas with the houses, it’s the similarities. img_1646

Still, I think the fascination comes from what I can see rubbing up against what I can’t.

“The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled.”John Berger from Ways of Seeing

img_16981 There’s a beauty in the colors and shapes blowing in the wind. an honesty in putting it out there.  This is who we are, it says.

“some dreams hang in the air”
lucille clifton from Good Woman