Judith Skillman – Five Paintings

Without our star, how would we inhabit bodies of rich sensory perception with which to perceive, even partially, the faint and intermittent signals lumped together under the term “beauty”? From the darkness of our ordinary, often dreary and difficult lives, these signals—if we pause long enough from “information—can become art. These glimpses into the organic whole may even glimmer.

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Julie Rosenzweig – The Mirror

Fine-grained urbanism doesn’t hijack your attention; it invites you in. You don’t view it, you live it – calling to mind Walter Benjamin’s famous dictum about architecture being an art whose reception “is consummated […] in a state of distraction.” We often think of beauty as something to be contemplated at a remove. Like life, though, beauty can be something that simply happens while you’re busy making other plans.

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The Lame Angel – Catulle Mendès (1885) Translated by Patricia Worth

I wish you could see what I see. A vast blue port sparkles in the afternoon sun that shines its bright band across the water. The dazzle makes me look left of it toward the bays and inlets and forested hills on the opposite shore. Below my balcony a cliff held together by lush shrubby trees drops steeply away to the esplanade, quiet on this cool May day.

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Accoutrements and Mandelbrot: Our Best of the Net nominations

I am, as the poet says, the stunned machine of her devotion. A dark pleated skirt, falling just past the knees. Black silk blouse, buttoned all the way. Pearls, of course, crystal earrings James gifted for her birthday, bangles, gold on each wrist. They caught the sunlight flowing in from the window, and I was dazzled.

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Susan McLean – Four Translations of Rainer Maria Rilke

As a poet, my attitude toward beauty is entirely positive.  The beauty of a work of art is earned through enormous effort, skill, and attention on the part of its creator.  A poem can be beautiful on all sorts of levels: the visual, the aural, the intellectual, the emotional, the imaginative.

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Angela Alaimo O’Donnell – Four Poems

Flannery O’Connor had a penchant for the weird & the wild and a gift for finding beauty in both. After writing 101 poems in her voice, I have come to appreciate the strangeness she admired and become a convert to her brand of beauty. For what is symmetry, proportion, wholeness, and perfection—all classical ideals of beauty—set beside the homely, the lonely, the plain, and the maimed? 

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