EIF Poetry Challenge #15: Ekphrastic

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.

Ekphrastic Poetry

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.

The Challenge

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:

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!

23 thoughts on “EIF Poetry Challenge #15: Ekphrastic

Add yours

  1. You’ve been conned Ingrid! Ekphrastic is a Yorkshire brand of glue. The word derives from the Yorksher expression ‘Eck tha’ sticks, and is similar to Evo-Stik, except that the brand has been around much longer. Like Evo-Stik, Ekphrastic has many uses, including, uniquely, the repair of broken Yorksher Puddings. It has though, been in short supply during the current Covid crisis.🙂
    In order not to spoil your poetry competition, I have consulted with Dauphy and we are happy to concede that the word may also have the alternative meaning which you attribute to it. Happy to help.🙂

      1. Oh you are the best.. swimming right now.. Harry had an emergency Sun. night after you asked.. thought that was it.. but we’re plugging away.. someday… maybe.. ❤️ xo

      2. 🥲 hope he’s doing ok ❤️ you know I would never pressure anyone to take part…just a little fun if you ever want to join in 😊

      3. cancelled putting him down mon and scheduled for this mon.. just can’t bare it so we’ll cancel again. geez.. his quality is fine.. ours is questionable. hahahahah. I appreciate the nudge.. xoxoxox 🥰

  2. Putting the Yorkshire super glue question to one side, here is my entry:

    An Uncommon Vision – A personal perception

    Autumn and eyes are what I perceive
    A woman defiant and bold
    A bird with a beak or so I believe
    And ghosts in lugubrious mould

    Greys and soft browns with a small strip of green
    Competing with gashes of light
    Bounding with beauty, sometimes unseen
    A fleeting farewell towards night

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