Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Lu Chi's Wen Fu

When I was in college, one of the books a professor required we purchase was Lu Chi's Wen Fu.  Just reading the introduction convinced me this was a book for me.   The book is written in poetry, but reads like a guide you climbed to the top of a mountain to sit with in silence, growing knowledgeable just through association.  Though it is geared toward the poet, any writer can gain insight from it.

"The poet stands at the center of the universe
   contemplating the enigma,

drawing sustenance
   from masterpieces of the past.  ("The Early Motion" lines 1-4)
Lu Chi's Wen Fu

This simple book walks the writer through all the agonies of creation, the selection of the right word, bright epiphanies and the moments of satisfaction.  Frequently, it reminds the reader that contemplation and study of  master works is the road to writing well.  I remember reading this book and nodding in agreement with each line.  I also recall finding every time the professor brought this book into discussion in class that I knew what he was saying almost before the words left his mouth.  There was an instant connection to the professor's words, this little book and my own understanding of the art of writing, however much a novice I was (and will always be as we are forever evolving in this craft).

If you are a writer, get this book.  Read it in small bits.  Breath it.  Contemplate it and then read the masters.  Then read the book again, whole, part, in sequence, out of order.  Grab snatches of it and return to it often.  Each reading is a new understanding, a new breath in writing.

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