Mar 24, 2011

Ekphrasis Verse

An Ekphrasis poem is one which is based on another work of art, usually a painting or sculpture. This style of writing is characteristic in such works as Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn," Byron's “Childe Harold's Pilgrimage”, and Shelley's "On the Medusa of Leonardo da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery."

For the last several weeks the Human Bean, a local coffee shop, has been exhibiting a selection of paintings by Susan Caron. Since several members of the CPW (the poetry group I belong to) can often be found at the Bean, it was only a matter of time before someone suggested that we all have a look at the paintings to see if we’re inspired to Ekphrasis verse.

My chance finally came Monday, when I went down to the Bean to have coffee with a friend. The paintings had changed from the selection that was offered at the beginning of the exhibition, but there was an interesting selection. I looked at the paintings and their titles, that was it. I did not want to know the story behind them, nor did I read the poems that were already written about them. I did not want my own impression to be influenced. I’m not even going to describe the paintings for you, but I am using the painting title for my poem’s title.

Against the Odds

Trapped in the box -
browns and yellows and red
bursting the confines.
Pour without restraint now
changing the landscape.
A river of autumn
free at last.

Trapped Within

sea of green
sea of blue
sea of the unseen

time spirals
out of control

spinning red dream
red of my passion
red of my blood
red left unread

waves flow forever
into eternity

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