Nature, art, and poetry–an autumn ramble

October is for impressionists.

This morning, frost coated the roofs and stars gleamed from the black sky. Later, sun illuminated the trees’ last colors like a medieval manuscript, warmed a construction crane. Vivid colors everywhere. The reds still take my breath away.

What’s an impressionist poem?

I belong to a poetry forum on Linked-in, and every once in a while the subject of nature, or inspiration, comes up. Some poets post that they’re inspired by nature–and in my head, I translate that to writing poems that describe nature. I don’t think of myself as writing poems inspired by nature–even though my forthcoming book takes place almost entirely outside. I’m inspired by colors–the leaves, the sky, a pasture of dried grass, the shifting shades of Puget Sound, but I don’t think I write about nature. It’s more like the mirror that teaches me things about myself, or just takes my breath away. Yes, I want my poems to take your breath away, but I don’t think describing nature is going to do it. (Too meta.)

But perhaps that’s a digression from the earlier question: What’s an impressionist poem?

I think of the painters capturing light and the sense of light and color, light becoming more important than form. How do you do that in a poem? Here the difference, for me, between visual arts and writing arts comes to the foreground. A painting creates a world. It takes you somewhere. (Even abstract art does this–you just get to fill in more of the details yourself, you help create that world.) A poem creates a world–but, removed from the visual–it needs to do more than represent. It needs to invite you into that world. It needs to resonate and, in that resonance, take you somewhere description can’t. So we have sensory impressions, and how do they work together and work with experience to cohere, to create something new?

Yes, I’m rambling, but one more time:

What’s an impressionist poem?

What are your favorite nature poems, and how do they work for you? What invites you into them?