NaPoWriMo 2016: day four

 

Day four!

You may have noticed that the prompts for this week are basic tools to get you started poeming.

On the first, we began our poems with the here and now, on the second we used our memory and On our third day, we looked outside of ourselves to gather a found poem.

Today, we'll combine those three methods into one (some of you may have already started doing this, naturally):

Poetry on a specific subject.

The subject can be anything. I'm going to narrow down the prompt to a very specific type of poem, which reflects my interest.

Ekphrasis: a poem describing a work of art. Grounded in the here and now of your experience writing, exploring a memory that is the art, with a "found" subject (that will shape the words you use).

This is an extremely old poetic tradition, dating back to Plato. There are many, many (beyond many) excellent examples of ekphrasis, I'll point you to a few of my favorites, which you might already be familiar with:

My Last Duchess - Robert Browning
Musée des Beaux Arts - W. H. Auden
Landscape With The Fall of Icarus - William Carlos Williams

(Those last two are about the same painting and yet, very different, showing us how much of the poet is brought into the poem!)

Ekphrasis does not need to be about a painting (although that is a time honored tradition). We have more recent examples of poems on photographs, films and books. Here are a few on photographs:

War Photograph - Kate Daniels
Photograph of People Dancing in Paris - Leslie Adrienne Miller

(Sharon Old's poem from Tuesday is also an ekphrasis!)

You can also write an ekphrasis poem on a painting/ drawing or photograph that you created, which is something I've done a lot, although I don't think of it as "pure" ekphrasis (though, who cares!).

To get started writing this type of poem, simply pick a painting/ drawing/photo and describe what you see, while remaining grounded in your five senses of the here and now.

An ekphrasis can be epic or short. The form is up to you, entirely (we'll start discovering/ playing with formal poetic forms next week).

Remember - you can use this prompt today or any day during the month (or after). Prompts are always optional!

Happy poeming!