My first ekphrastic poem, “Remembering Etaples,” appears in the December 21st edition of The Ekphrastic Review: http://www.ekphrastic.net/the-ekphrastic-review/previous/2. What is an ekphrastic poem, you say? According to the Poetry Foundation:
An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the ‘action’ of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.1
The editor of The Ekphrastic Review takes a more liberal view:
The piece can be an in-depth experience of the art work, or it can use the art as a starting point for expression. The connection to the artwork or artist can be subtle, a flight of fancy triggered by another work of creative imagination. Or it can be the backbone of the piece, central in every way.2
Oddly enough, with a BA and an MA in English, I was unaware of ekphrastic poetry until I was long out of graduate school. However, I just learned from the Poetry Foundation that I did in fact study at least one ekphrastic poem, John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” Who knew? I can’t help but think that my professors’ being of the old guard trained in New Criticism might have had something to do with the lack of attention to this type of poetry in their curriculum. New Criticism didn’t hold any truck with needing to leave the poem to find its meaning.
Be that as it may, when I discovered The Ekphrastic Review through a call for submissions newsletter a while back, I was intrigued with the thought of trying something new. None of the artwork challenges prompted lines and images of my own, however. Then “Rainy Night at Etaples” dropped into my e-mail, and I had my poem: a naked man stands at the window looking down into the street, his lover in the bed behind him.
1“Glossary of Poetic Terms,” Poetry Foundation, accessed December 30, 2018, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/learn/glossary-terms/ekphrasis.