Monday, July 14, 2014

DAY 2. Pictures into Words: Ekphrastic Poetry

Hope you did your homework:

Bring in Pictures:
  1. people 
  2. places
  3. picture of your choice

DAY 2. Pictures into Words
What is Ekphrastic poetry? 

1. Warm-up Exercise: Autobiography Poem:

First line: first name

Second line: three words that describe you

Fourth line: three things you do not like

Fifth line: three favorite movies/books

Sixth line: three fears - use figurative language (simile, metaphor, personification, etc.)

Seventh line: three things you like about school

Eight line: two goals

Ninth line: place you would like to visit

Tenth line: Last name

I will read the poems aloud without line 1 and 10 - guess who's who?

2. Imagery group poems: 

  • Each student select one of her images (not the place poem).
  • Write a line and pass it on. Write a line and pass it on...
  • 2 rounds - pass each poem around twice
  • Read these 10 line poems aloud.

3. Writing a 3 stanza poem (12 lines) on the painting below: 

  • Overview: consider the 5 elements of Art: Color, Line, Space, Shape, Texture
  • Parts: describe the background, middle ground, foreground 
    • For example:
      Cezanne's Ports
      by Allen Ginsberg

      In the foreground we see time and life
      swept in a race
      toward the left hand side of the picture
      where shore meets shore.

      But that meeting place
      isn't represented;
      it doesn't occur on the canvas.

      For the other side of the bay
      is Heaven and Eternity,
      with a bleak white haze over its mountains.

      And the immense water of L'Estaque is a go-between
      for minute rowboats.

      Paul Cezanne, L'Estaque (1883-85)

      Oil on canvas. The Museum of Modern Art, New York City.

  • Title: give your poem a title that fits the picture
  • Interdependence: how do these elements and parts come together?
  • Conclusion: what conclusion can we draw from it? Suggest a story.

Daniel Garber, American, 1880 - 1958

The Poetry Foundation defines Ekphrastic as “Description” in Greek. 
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. 

What is imagery? GOATVOK
Sensory imagery:
  • Gustatory - Taste
  • Olfactory - Smell
  • Auditory - Sound
  • Tactile - Touch
  • Visual - Sight
  • Organic - Feeling
  • Kinesthetic - Action/motion

4. "Build-a-Poem Exercise"

Building on the imagery exercises from yesterday afternoon with Ms. Coleman, we will work with images and words in her "Build-a-Poem Exercise":

1. Describe a single image that you feel captures the essence or spirit of a place you love.
The image will be concrete and specific but should capture the spiritual, physical, and emotional essence of the larger place. Be sure to use sensory detail.

2. Write a second line. Consider if you want to build on the first image (add more detail) complicate/change the first image slightly, add reflection (your thoughts) on the first image, add a second image, etc. You should still be trying to capture or distil the essence of this place.

3. Still focusing on this place, ask the image in the first line a question.

4. Answer the question, either as the image or by supplying an answer yourself.

5. Poetry Scavenger Hunt:

With laptops, explore some of the ekphrastic poems listed below - which is your favorite?

Rank your top 3. Please explain why. Be specific about details.

Examples of ekphrastic poetry on include:

The Shield of Achilles by W. H. Auden

The Painting by Jon Balaban

War Photograph by Kate Daniels

The Family Photograph by Vona Groarke

Museum Guard by David Hernandez

The Mad Potter by John Hollander

Messieur Degas Teaches Art and Science at Durfy Intermediate School, Detroit 1942 by Philip Levine

Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats

Die Muhle Brennt—Richard by Richard Matthews

Photograph of People Dancing in France by Leslie Adrienne Miller

Why knowing is (& Matisse’s Woman with a Hat) by Martha Ronk

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by William Carlos Williams

Stealing The Scream by Monica Youn

Joseph Cornell, with Box by Michael Dumanis

If you don't like these here are more examples to explore!

Plus from Emory: "Poet Speaks of Art"

Harry Rusche, English Department, Emory University. 
This project is designed for the students of English 205, "Introduction to Poetry."

Charles Sheeler, Classic Landscape (1931)
Oil on canvas, 25 inches x 32.25 inches.

Classic Scene

William Carlos Williams
A power-house
in the shape of
a red brick chair
90 feet high
on the seat of which
sit the figures
of two metal
commanding an area
of squalid shacks
side by side--
from one of which
buff smoke
streams while under
a grey sky
the other remains
passive today--

6. Write your own poem on a famous work of art:

Suggested Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM) Artworks


  • List the first words that come to mind when you look at this artwork.
  • What is happening in this artwork? What story is being told? 
  • Who or what is the subject of the painting? 
  • How would you describe them? 
  • What is the mood of the artwork? 
  • What sounds, smells, feelings, tastes could you associate with it? 
  • How does this artwork connect with you personally? 
  • Why did you choose it? 
  • How would you summarize its main idea? 

The Lost Balloon, 1882
William Holbrook Beard
oil on canvas
47 3/4 x 33 3/4 in. (121.3 x 85.7 cm.) Museum purchase


Subway, ca. 1934
Lily Furedi
oil on canvas
39 x 48 1/4 in. (99.1 x 122.6 cm.)
Transfer from the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Service


Interception, 1996
Mark Tansey
oil on canvas
71 1/4 x 108 1/4 in. (181.0 x 275.0 cm.)
Museum purchase made possible by the American Art Forum

Cape Cod Morning, 1950
Edward Hopper
oil on canvas
34 1/8 x 40 1/4 in. (86.7 x 102.3 cm.)
Gift of the Sara Roby Foundation


Café, ca. 1939-1940
William H. Johnson
oil on paperboard
36 1/2 x 28 3/8 in. (92.7 x 72.2 cm.)
Gift of the Harmon Foundation

The Girl I Left Behind Me, 1870-1875
Eastman Johnson
oil on canvas
42 x 34 7/8 in. (106.7 x 88.7 cm.)
Museum purchase made possible in part by Mrs. Alexander Hamilton Rice in memory of her husband and by Ralph Cross Johnson



Bring in songs/lyrics and lyrics to share. 

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