Wednesday, September 7, 2011
Ekphrastic Poetry 101
This is what my students are working on, so I thought why not talk about it here too? It's really not as scary as the word "ekphrastic" makes it sound. All it is is poetry based on a work of art, like a painting, sculpture or photograph. Simple as that.
For reference, here's a whole page of ekphrastic poems, everything from Jackson Pollock to Raphael. Some better than others.
What I like about ekphrastic poetry is that, if its done well, it forces the poet to deeper and deeper observation. You have to be aware of every nuance and every detail in the painting to really make it work. You put in back story and emotional connections. Doing this for a work of art is great practice for being more observant in real life, which is an essential part of any writing. So as far as writing exercises go, I think this is a good one.
So I've got a fascinating Picasso here to maybe get you started, but my challenge for you today is to pick your favorite work of art and get a few lines down. Doesn't even have to be super great, but just try, get as observant and detailed as you can, and see what you come up with. And I'd love to know how it goes :)