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Ekprhasis (or Ekphrastic Poetry): Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at ekphrasis (or ekphrastic poetry) and the art of writing poems about other pieces of art.

As with last week's form (ars poetica), this week's form is less about rhyme schemes, counting syllables, and refrains. Once again, it's focused on the content of the poem, because ekphrastic poetry is the art of writing poetry about other pieces of art.

(8 Lawrence Ferlinghetti Quotes for Writers and About Writing.)

One piece that comes to mind is the opening of Ferlinghetti's "A Coney Island of the Mind," which begins, "In Goya's greatest scenes we seem to see / the people of the world / exactly at the moment when / they first attained the title of / 'suffering humanity' ..." And then, Ferlinghetti goes on to describe familiar scenes from Francisco Goya's paintings and drawings. It's a powerful tool for readers.

Another popular example is "Ode on a Grecian Urn," by John Keats. In this poem, he questions whether the static urn can express a "flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme." And after describing scenes on the urn, Keats concludes, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

In other words, art is art. There are artists who look to poetry for inspiration in their creations. And likewise, ekphrastic poetry offers poets a great avenue to participate in the communication between all artists.

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The Complete Guide of Poetic Forms

Play with poetic forms!

Poetic forms are fun poetic games, and this digital guide collects more than 100 poetic forms, including more established poetic forms (like sestinas and sonnets) and newer invented forms (like golden shovels and fibs).

Click to continue.

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Here is an example of Ekphrasis (or Ekphrastic Poetry):

between us, by Robert Lee Brewer

i often think of paris
through the eyes of toulouse-lautrec
his posters & portraits portraying
a wild world full of humorless dancing
& love as an act to be performed

i imagine him hemmed into a corner
on a barstool sketching the world
whirling without him spinning up
tales of a city everyone will try
to chase on a saturday night

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