I confessed last week I haven’t written much poetry this year. I had fabulous intentions but the muse left the building in some sort of huff and my words were no longer warming up in the bullpen like they normally do. They seemed to have been put out to pasture to really mix metaphors and be frightfully annoying to myself.
One of the spaces where my words did continually appear was from visual art prompts from my friend, Tess Kincaid, at “The Mag” or Magpie Tales on Blogger.
I was thinking about this today, remembering back to looking at a display of pottery at the Getty Museum, a field trip chaperone for my daughter, Katherine’s then sixth grade class. She is now a senior in college, so it has been a while. The tour guidestarted talking about Keats and his “Ode to a Grecian Urn.” I enjoyed it, but as Morgan said in her OctPoWriMo blog post yesterday, sometimes I got stuck in the molasses feel of the 19th Century phrasing and language.
Somehow the images Tess uses as prompts speak to me with a directness I wasn’t “hearing” via language.
I read about ekphrastic poetry (poetry inspired by art) at the website poets.org and it said, "Modern ekphrastic poems have generally shrugged off antiquity's obsession with elaborate description, and instead have tried to interpret, inhabit, confront, and speak to their subjects. “ Yes! That’s what I do, that’s what I experience.
I have facilitated writing sessions at Art Shows and the writers always create new insights from choosing a work of art and “becoming intimate” with it, which is how I think of getting to know a work of art by spending time with it, really observing it closely with an open heart.
Today, it happened for me again at The Mag. The image was from Norman Rockwell, much more illustration oriented than I am used to writing from but something in the image yanked at my heart and after reading Tess’ response my fingers simply had to leap in as well.
Other poet and prose writers’ words may be read at the Magpie Tales mainprompt website. You may even choose to join the poetic voices there – or not.
Waking up to the possibilities of subjects within works of art today reminded me when the muse leaves the building there are places outside the building I can explore and see what there is to see, to feel, to smell, to touch and to be touched, smelled, felt and seen by.
Curious about other modern ekphrastic poets?
Here are several places to read ekphrastic poetry as well as learn more and be inspired.
Sometimes when I work on images for my blog, I search for art that is not subject to copyright, usually older images. I have found many that beg to be written and re-experienced and re-imagined via my pen. The image I used today is Matisse - The Joy of Life. I have used it when I teach a writing session for students in a college Art Appreciation class. They are very inspired by this image - as am I.
Perhaps there are images waiting out there for you as well both in OctPoWriMo and beyond.
-- Julie Jordan Scott