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?

Day of the Dead, Family, Latino culture, Latinos in film

Day of the Dead in the U.S.A

Day of the Dead
Day of the Dead

The Latin American tradition of “el Dia de Los Muertos,” has crossed over to the U.S. as Day of the Dead (DoD) Celebrations are in more cities and cemeteries than ever before.

One can find DoD items at Williams-Sonoma, Cost Plus World Market, Target, Michael’s, and several other stores. The day has been commercialized and is now part of big marketing just like Halloween and other holidays.

I have mixed feelings about all that and hope the tradition doesn’t get lost through merchandising. I don’t want people to think that DoD is Mexican Halloween because it isn’t.

You might wonder what’s up with Mexican culture and death. And how did the celebration come to the U.S?

This is a story as old as immigration and ancestral traditions.

In the 1970’s Latino activists and artists in the United States began expanding “Day of the Dead” north of the border with celebrations of performance art, Aztec dance, art exhibits, and other public expressions, namely the construction of the altar.

This tradition, embraced by the mainstream, builds community, gives awareness for other traditions, and helps maintain ancestral and cultural identity.

There are several icons which constitute a Day of the Dead remembrance.

Recently, museums across the nation have begun to embrace this tradition as a means of engaging more diverse audiences and highlighting how Latin Americans view death, in contrast to Anglo-Saxons.

My county museum has been celebrating Day of the Dead for several years. This year, I and several others are building an altar to the Mexican and Mexican American film stars of the past 100 years, as a precursor to a film festival we’re hosting next year.

First we had to fold and cut a lot of colorful crepe paper to decorate the three levels of the altar. I’m a craft klutz, but with some individual help, I was able to construct a few papeles.

Papel Picado
Papel Picado

Some handiwork from my friends:

Heart and Diamond cuts on Papel Picado
Heart and Diamond cut on Papel Picado

As you can see, just building the altar brings a group together.

Over the next few days, we’ll gather the elements needed to symbolize the four elements: wind, water, earth, and fire. Bunches of cempasuchil (marigolds), photographs, jarros (earthenware jugs or cups), candles, salt, pan de muerto (bread of the dead), sugar skulls and a few other objects.

Here’s a close-up view of a small altar.

Example of Day of the Dead altar.
Example of Day of the Dead altar.

Expand your horizons and visit a Day of the Dead celebration in your area.

 

poetry

How Dalí Helps Me Create

Dali quote, art and dreaming
Salvador Dalí quote on Dreaming

Yesterday I searched for a gift for my son whose birthday is coming up. He’s an artist who favors surrealists and abstract expressionism.

I came upon some Salvador Dalí paintings which made me remember a trip to London with my son where we visited “Dalí Universe.”

I read that much of his artwork came to him in the few seconds between sleep and wakefulness. I imagined Dalí dipping into his dreams while creating his artwork. He referred to his art as “hand-painted dream photographs.”

Dali called this “method” his “secret of sleeping while awake,” or the hypnagogic state.

This captured my attention since I frequently find that dawn is when I feel most creative. 

Today during those seconds between waking and leaving my dreams I found a poem. 

 

Sleep State

 In the depths of the morning

I touch heaven,

the dawn rises

in ribbons of blue, 

in the quiet

before the hum

of living.

 

 

In the depths of the morning,

when light creeps through

a flutter of lashes,

I reach back into a dream

to salvage a memory

relive a feeling.

 

In the depths of the morning,

in the silence

where there is only me,

I breath life 

through a yawn

and decide

to try another day.

Luckily, I have my cell phone on my nightstand and use it to record notes, including this poem. I find if I turn on my lamp to use my pen and jot words down on paper, the bright light distracts me.

Maybe this technique of “sleeping while awake” will help you as a writer, artist, or poet.

Or you can try sleeping more, 😴

What prompts your creativity?

poetry, Writing

Why I Write

Langston Hughes quote on Journal-VickieHallmark, flickr.com
Journal-VickieHallmark, flickr.com

 

I cannot NOT write.

I write to tell stories about people and issues that matter, 

to me,

with experiences which may be different than your own,

or the same.

I write about the ugly & the beautiful

the abandoned & abused

the loved & unloved

the saved & the unsaved.

I write because I’m fascinated

by the hope and faith broken people

can show

in the middle of their pain

something that pushes them on.

I write because I know that

no hay rosas sin espinas

there are no roses without thorns 

I write to feel, to stay alive, 

to have hope, and because I’m grateful 

Why do you write or create?