Archive for April 23rd, 2012

Ekphrasis: Poetry confronting a work of art.

I was first introduced to this poetry form by my mentor and Louisiana’s 2011 poet laureate Darrell Bourque.  In our workshops, Darrell would pass around a postcard collection of works of art and inspire us to write.  This was usually successful for me, so I have passed this process on to my students.  The book I use most is Heart to Heart, edited by Jan Greenberg. In her book, the poems are placed beside the work of art.  I use this book to model the different forms ekphrasis can take.  The ekphrastic poem can be a description loaded with imagery or a story poem in which the poet becomes a part of the painting.  Here is a link to my students’ poems on our classroom wikispace: http://gtallstars.wikispaces.com/Ekphrastic+Poetry

Today I wrote with my students as I usually do.  I have this beautiful book of the River of Words award winners. The painting I chose was titled Sunset in River.

by Khumar Gumbatova, age 13

The sunset becomes a rainbow
in fields where
silhouettes of trees
stand like soldiers
guarding this sacred land.

Sun reddens water
now a glowing sea where
hidden flowers grow.

at sunset I imagine
all life praises

The 30 Day Poetry Challenge Day 23: Write a seven line poem that begins with “it’s true that fresh air is good for the body” (from Frank O’Hara’s poem “Ave Maria”) and ends with “this is our body” (from Gary Snyder’s “The Bath”).

It’s true that fresh air is good for the body.
Breathe with your eyes closed like the sleeping Tom;
Taste the sweet honeysuckle nectar
while the wind tickles your cheek,
and you listen for the distant call of the cardinal
red in his cocky plumage.
This is our body.

Buzz naps while I write. He inspires a line.

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