Art, Creativity, Inspiration, poetry, Poetry Month, Stories, Writing Inspiration

What the Heck is Ekphrastic #Poetry?

 

paper cutout of a couple on a book
Story. Photo by Rossyyme, flickr.com creative commons

 

In the spirit of poetry month, I thought I’d make a poem for this week’s post. Last year, I celebrated the month with the post Late To The Poetry Party, offering a poem and several links to other poets (who actually submit poems and win honors).

Have you ever heard a term that sounded so odd you wanted to blurt, “Say what?”

That’s how I felt when I first heard of Ekphrastic poetry but I didn’t ask the question out loud. First, my mind and tongue tried to wrap itself around the weird word. Second, maybe I didn’t want to hear the definition; sounded like a cutting word.

I heard the word from my writing mentor, Fred Arroyo, who participated in this interesting workshop:

“PINTURA : PALABRA, a project in ekphrasis” is a multi-year initiative that encourages new Latino writing inspired by art, above all a Smithsonian American Art Museum traveling exhibit titled Our America: The Latino Presence in American Art. Aspects of this initiative include ekphrastic writing workshops; inviting writers to engage with the exhibit; and partnering with literary journals to publish portfolios of ekphrastic writing. The exhibit debuted in Washington, D.C. in 2013 and concludes its tour in Sioux City, Iowa in 2017.

You can read how he uses ekphrastic poetry here.

This is from 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.

Now, whenever I go to a museum or see a lovely piece of photography, my creative juices begin squirting and sometimes land on something I like.

This is a photo which mesmerized me for a few minutes. A story followed.

 

inside of monastery, sunlight, photo by Helmut Tobies
Photo of Monastery by Helmut Tobies, unsplash.com/creative commons

 

In another time,

another place

sunlight danced on the shoulders

of forbidden lovers

pressed against columns

moist with passion

beneath arches,

                                                          a canopy to cover scandal,

the joyful

sighs of love.

Her velvet gown

crushed by nubby wool

of a friar’s frock,

surrounded by scents of jasmine

and aromatic oils.

More than one great romance

glowed in the shadows

of the setting sun

in another century, in another monastery.

The photo connected with me, perhaps because I love architecture, medieval times, and television shows like “Reign.”

I find that Ekphrastic poetry is a good way to stimulate creativity and can serve as a writing prompt. Many times I need something to propel me to start writing, especially if I’m revising (which is most of the time).

So tell me, what do you see?

Family, Family time, Inspiration, Latino Family Traditions, poetry, Poetry Month

Poetry On Wednesday-Nostalgia

 

Summer days at the river
Summer days at the river

Warmer weather has me thinking of summer. Summer, when I was a kid. A long time ago.

We were poor in funds, rich in family, and too young to know or care that some kids went away to summer camp.

We camped too, by the river or at Salton Sea (my least favorite place), sleeping on blankets inside or outside a tent—if there was one.

Tios, tias, primos/Uncles, aunts, cousins gathered together a few times during the sweltering summers in Pomona, California.

I don’t know if there is such a thing as a ‘memoir’ poem, but my nostalgia for the summer days of childhood brought these words:

 

Sounds of Summer

 

Salty air, scorching sand

burning toes,

scents of sulfur

linger over Salton Sea

 

Picnics on Cucamonga river

sage scented air

mesquite smoke

earthy campfire coffee

aromas cross-bred forever

 

Sprays of cool water,

float over inner tubes

sunburned skin,

cutoff shorts

trencitas

braids

 

Slippery river rock         

pollywogs tickling feet

water spiders causing shrieks

kids dash, splash, laugh

 

Watermelons wedged between rocks

sticky sweet juice drips over 

dusty smiling faces

don’t swallow the seeds

images of tiny melons planted in bellies

 

Corn silk floating beside

shucked leaves piled high

diced green chiles

juicy tomatoes

pungent onions

the click clack of knives against cutting boards

 

White hot glowing embers

full stomachs on cool nights

warm ponchos, cold beer

a seat in the circle of camping chairs

 

Stories among the songs of long ago

no s’mores, but

smiles of contentment while

campfire smoke drifts

into memory

 

flower seeds crack

salty lips, drowsy eyes

flashlight shadow puppets 

on tent covered walls

sounds of family 

sounds of summer

 

 

What do you remember of your childhood summers? 

 

 

Maya Angelou, Mexican History, poetry, Poetry Month, poets, Sandra Cisneros, Social Justice, Strength

Poetry on Wednesdays-Political Poetry

Poetry and Politics-JFK quote. alvaradofrazier.com
Poetry and Politics-JFK quote. alvaradofrazier.com

Remember high school English classes?

That was my first introduction to poetry. Old poets. Lot’s of ‘thee’s and thou’s,” and too much Old English stuff.

I was a studious person, more logical than emotional, so many poems went over my head.

That was until I went to college, in the mid ’70’s. It was an eyeopener when I read the profound words of contemporary poets Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni, who spoke of racism and the strength of women.

I found only two Chicano/Mexican American poets, both male: Alurista and the political activist, Rudulfo “Corky” Gonzales.

Yo Soy Joaquin, I am Joaquin, gripped me from the beginning.

This bilingual poem, published in 1967, summarized Mexican and Mexican American history, from the exploitation of the natives through colonial times, to the present. The poem served as a nationalist ideology for political activism, using the historical events of the 19th Century social rebel, Joaquin Murrieta.

The poem was groundbreaking, revitalizing, and began a social movement. Since it is several pages long, here’s an excerpt from the middle of the poem:

I am Joaquin. 
I rode with Pancho Villa, 
crude and warm, a tornado at full strength, 
nourished and inspired by the passion and the fire of all his earthy people. 
I am Emiliano Zapata. 
“This land, this earth is OURS.” 
The villages, the mountains, the streams 
belong to Zapatistas. 
Our life or yours is the only trade for soft brown earth and maize. 
All of which is our reward, 
a creed that formed a constitution 
for all who dare live free! 
“This land is ours . . . 
Father, I give it back to you. 
Mexico must be free. . . .” 
I ride with revolutionists 
against myself. 
I am the Rurales, 
coarse and brutal, 
I am the mountian Indian, 
superior over all. 
The thundering hoof beats are my horses. The chattering machine guns 
are death to all of me: 
Yaqui 
Tarahumara 
Chamala 
Zapotec 
Mestizo 
Español. 
I have been the bloody revolution, 
The victor, 
The vanquished. 

 

You can read the entire epic poem here. 

In the 80’s and ’90’s, I fell in love with poems and novels by Sandra Cisneros. My love affair with Ms. Cisneros’ work is well documented on my blog. For me, her poems in “Wicked, Wicked Ways” and “Loose Woman,” spanned the politics of women.

Ms. Cisneros is my ‘she-ro.’  My favorite poem is “You Bring Out the Mexican In Me.”

It’s also fairly long, so I’ll print one of her short poems:

Black Lace Bra Kind of Woman

 

Watchale! She’s a black lace bra

kind of woman, the kind who serves

up suicide with every kamikazi

poured into neon blue of evening

A tease and a twirl. I’ve seen that

two-step girl in action. I’ve gambled bad

odds and sat shotgun as she rambled

her ’59 Pontiac between the blurred

lines dividing sense from senselessness

Ruin your clothes, she will.

Get you home after hours

driving her ’59 seventy five on 35

like there is no tomorrow.

Woman zydeco-ing into her own decade.

Thirty years pleated behind her like

the wail of a San Antonio accordion.

And now the good times are coming. Girl,

I tell you, the good times are here.

From LOOSE WOMAN, 1994 pg. 78

 

Until next week, thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

poetry, Poetry Month, poets

Poetry on Wednesday: Haiku

Poetry On Wednesday (POW)-alvaradofrazier.com
Poetry On Wednesday (POW)-alvaradofrazier.com

 

Today is Poetry on Wednesday (POW) day.

Last week I mentioned Poetry Month and how I’d contribute to the celebration of words.

Because I just learned how a Haiku is structured, by terrific instructor Sonya Sones, I decided to do a Haiku for POW day.

Traditional Japanese Haiku not only have 17 syllables, they must also contain an inference or allusion to nature or season, in an unrhymed sequence, and be in the present moment. Very Zen like.

Haiku on Cherry Blossom-gettyimages
Haiku on Cherry Blossom-gettyimages

There are several forms/rules on the traditional, but for my novice self I’m adhering to the  5/7/5 syllables for each line:

 

You can’t force poems-they

force you to pick up a pen

and write the words you hide

 

Richard Wright, author and poet, composed over 4,000 Haiku’s during the last 18 months of his life. Prolific, indeed.

These three are traditional Haiku’s and some of my favorites:

 

Whitecaps on the bay:
A broken signboard banging
In the April wind.

 

 I am nobody:
A red sinking autumn sun
Took my name away.

 

In this rented room
One more winter stands outside
My dirty window pane

 

I’m going to work my way to traditional haiku and do some bilingual haiku, in tiempo ( time).

Give this poetic form a whirl. I believe you’ll learn to love its simplicity, form, and presentness.

It just might place you in a zen state.