This week’s challenge is an Ekphrastic challenge, in other words, writing a poem in response to a work of art. This week’s judge and three-time EIF Poetry Challenge winner, Nick Reeves, has provided the artwork featured in today’s post, which will be your prompt.
The word ‘ekphrastic’ comes from the Ancient Greek ἐκφράζειν (ekphrázein) , “to proclaim/tell in full.” As the etymology of the name suggests, the practice of artistic ekphrasis originated in ancient Greece, perhaps with Plato’s description of ideal forms in terms of real life objects in Book X of his Republic.
As for poetic ekphrasis, this can be found as far back as Homer’s description of Achilles’ shield in the Iliad, although the practice of writing ekphrastic poetry in English began in earnest during the Romantic period, the archetypal example being Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn. I would argue that On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer by the same poet is also ekphrastic in nature, though it is responding to a work of literature rather than a work of art. The practice of writing ekphrastic poetry was carried on by the Pre-Raphaelites, by poets including Letitia Elizabeth Landon and Dante Gabriel Rossetti.
Ekphrastic poetry is hugely popular today, and has given rise to literary magazines such as Visual Verse and The Ekphrastic Review. Perhaps you are familiar with these publications: several talented members of the WordPress poetry community are regular contributors. I for one find Ekphrastic poetry particularly challenging. The closest I have come is probably The burned farm at Radovna, which is my response not to a work of art, but to the experience of visiting the memorial site of a war crime, which had a profound effect on me.
Write a poem in response to the featured image of this post, provisionally titled An Uncommon Vision. Of the work itself, Nick had this to say:
The piece is constructed on an 10×10 canvas and is multi layered and manipulated from cut outs/cut up National Geographic, postage stamps, letters and handwriting, postcards, some acrylics, tracing and tissue paper, etc.
It is, I suppose, a story – if a story is a way of working through something – and also a metaphor.
Now it is over to you to tell the story of this artwork as it speaks to you!
Ways to enter
You can enter in any one of the following ways:
- Make a post featuring your poem, and create a pingback to this post. If you are using Nick’s artwork, please credit him as the artist and create a link to the post in which it was originally featured: https://nickreeves.blog/2020/11/16/uncommon-vision/
- Submit your entry by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Enter via Instagram crediting Nick for the Artwork: @nicknick_severe and tagging me: @experimentsinfiction.
- Tweet your response and tag me @Experimentsinfc.
Deadline for entries is Midnight C.E.T. on Tuesday, 9th February. Results to be announced as soon as possible after this date.
Good luck, and may the muse be with you!