In February, we’ll be partnering with the Arts Council of Carteret County to bring the literary arts to Art from the Heart, a popular, annual arts event. On February 4, Carteret Writers members are invited for a free, private viewing of the artwork on display to prepare for the Ekphrastic Contest we’re hosting as part of the event. Submissions will be due on February 8. Board Advisor Trish Sheppard, a local artist and poet, was generous enough to provide some information on the unique form and to offer pointers on writing your own ekphrastic poetry. Thank you, Trish, for sharing your insights.

Ekphrastic Poetry is the intersection of art and poetry brought together by observation and reaction.

Is it a new concept?

No, poet Edwin Markham in the 1800s responded to “Man with a Hoe” a work by Jean—Francis Millet, and John Keat’s poem “Ode to a Grecian Urn” was inspired by ancient pottery. Since then, many other poets have used art as inspiration.

Pointers that might help you to write Ekphrastic Poetry for our upcoming Art from the Heart Ekphrastic Contest

  1. It is best to view the piece of art (can be any form) in person, if possible. Photographs seem to flatten and can change the color somewhat.
  2. Select up to three art pieces that “speak to you.” Write down the colors, details, symbols, medium, and your reaction to each.
  3. For each piece of art, ask yourself:
    • Who or what will narrate your poem and provide the point of view?
    • Will your poem occur in the backdrop of the past, present, or future or a combination?
    • What emotion would each elicit from the reader?
  4. At this point, you can pick one of the three art pieces or you can start to write a poem with each.
  5. Pick the poem form that best matches your intentions (e.g., free verse, sonnet, ode, elegy, or any form you choose).
  6. Read out loud to yourself and read to someone else. Did you accomplish what you wanted? Make any changes.
  7. Narrow down to the one or ones you will submit.
  8. Check the submission guidelines to make sure your entry complies.