Wednesday, March 11, 2009

forcing poems into the light

This forced tulip seems to yearn for the outdoors. It senses the light but not the snow-covered earth. We've been forcing poems in our poetry group by reading into photos. It's a form of ekphrasis - a Greek word meaning "speak out."

I gave an interview to a teen working on a career project, a nice stroke for me! She asked me about my process. I described an exercise I enjoy - sketching a painting in a museum and writing what the process reveals to me. "That sounds like ekphrasis," she said. "Describing a work of art in a poetic form."

I may have known the term from my English major days, but it was buried. So I am happy to know that I enjoy a process described by Plato and practiced by Virgil, Homer, Shelley, Rilke and a host of poets. The process is like using a third eye to see something you might miss with two. The right brain works while the left brain is occupied with line, perspective, etc.

Other artists also use this technique. I'm currently researching Malvina Hoffman, American sculptor who studied with Rodin. Her first assignment was to take home one of Rodin's plaster hands and draw it for a week.

So pack a sketchbook and pencil on your next museum visit and practice ekphrasis.

1 comment:

  1. I always seem to get into a drawing/poetry frame of mind this time of year. I think it has to do with the hopefulness of the season, preparing for the lushness of summer.


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