The Ekphrastic: 3 small poems for three grand artworks
I genuinely had no idea ekphrastic poetry was a thing. 'Ekphrasis' is not something you usually hear.
Well, what is it?
Ekphrasis (ecphrasis) comes from the Greek word meaning 'description.' Basically, ekphrastic poems are vivid descriptions of artworks. These poems don't follow a structure or rhyme scheme. Actually, ekphrastic poems can be written in any other poetry style or found within a poem. Ekphrastic poetry is not about form, rigidity, or structure, but the connection between poetry and art.
I watched Johnny Savage's YouTube video on ekphrastic poetry, and he says, "It's not saying what you see, it's more like what is happening in the picture."
Johnny also says, "Go anywhere you can see art: galleries, museums, universities... or go online! And try writing a poem in response to that moment you are looking at that picture."
I like art as much as I like poetry so this style sounded exciting.
I went on Google Arts and Culture to find artworks that inspired me to write ekphrastic poetry. This was such a great site to explore. I really recommend it for those who like viewing art online or those who want artwork to incorporate into lessons. Honestly, I didn't just learn ekphrasis; I learned a lot about art movements and various artists too.
The first one that I liked was Edna Smith in a Japanese Wrap by Robert Henri, and I wrote:
All that matters are red cheeks kissed with life
and in the dreary place where she sits,
captures the breath of her witness
with locks that feel soft to the touch,
and she beguiles with her eyes;
eyes that see through the fading colors;
eyes more beautiful than flowers;
eyes that look right at me.
The second one was The Bookworm by Carl Spitweg, and I wrote:
Words are not enough to say that old man is me
and he looks nothing like me,
not with the book between his knees
nor the pages under his elbow;
he is the version of my past and present
begging to be lost in meaning,
eager to be knowledge and fact,
and reading shadows in the light.
Lastly, I looked at The Balcony Room by Adolph Menzel, and I wrote:
The path is there for me to take
guided by the breeze on the shades
and the light on the floor;
it's inviting me out
the open and the fall,
but the emptiness locks me in;
I see you in the mirror,
but your chair tells me you're gone.
I had a lot of fun this week with my learning project. I felt like it was extra instructive despite this poetry style's lack of structure. I had the opportunity to look at various artworks from different art movements. It also felt odd to write poetry on someone else's work, but I understand how responsive we can be by using poetry. Although I don't know what the artist's intentions were with their art, I was able to share my interpretation of it.
I don't have a What does it mean? this week. I want to leave the ekphrastic poems like this; just as art is open for interpretation, my poems are too. I did write them based on the three artworks, so if you want to see why I wrote what I wrote, please check out the links! I swear they deserve your attention.