Bursting out of the frame: Writing ekphrastic poetry and its connection to visual art

Ekphrastic poetry has a long and rich history. While the meaning of ekphrasis has changed over time, ekphrastic poetry now generally refers to poems that evoke and / or respond to a work of visual art. John Hollander has said, ‘Works of art are silent; poetry speaks its mind’.  Much more than just description, ekphrastic writing speaks of works of visual art with new inflections and, often, unexpected emphases. Notional ekphrasis is a term that usually refers to poems that evoke a work, or works, of art imagined by the poet rather than referencing an actual artwork. Such poems are doubly creative. They imagine and ‘create’ in words, one or more works of visual art and also, and simultaneously, imagine and create a poem.

In this workshop, three poets who have written, edited and published extensively in ekphrasis will lead participants in writing ekphrastic and notionally ekphrastic poems, prose poems and/or flash fiction. They will also provide opportunities for possible publication of these pieces.

There are lots of well-known examples of ekphrastic poetry, including Rainer Maria Rilke’s ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’, Anne Sexton’s ‘The Starry Night’, Marianne Moore’s ‘No Swan so Fine’, John Ashbery’s ‘Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror’ and W H Auden’s ‘Musée des Beaux Arts, re-imagined by William Carlos Williams as ‘Landscape with the Fall of Icarus’. And perhaps the most famous English-language examples of such notionally ekphrastic works are Keats’ ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ and Browning’s ‘My Last Duchess'.

Workshop participants are encouraged, but not required, to bring along any images they would like to work with. Otherwise, all workshop supplies will be provided by the facilitators, including a range of artworks and packets with examples of ekphrastic and notionally ekphrastic work from a variety of poets and artists working in the field and a list for opportunities to publish ekphrastic writing.


April 29, 2021, 7:00 pm
Ending Date/Time
April 29, 2021, 8:00 pm