see art

May 27, 2020

Seattle was one of the first cities in the United States to adopt a percent-for-art ordinance, in 1973. Since that time, the city has amassed a collection that includes more than 400 permanently sited and integrated works and nearly 3,000 portable works. Now the entire collection is available for viewing at the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture Civic Art Collection. Let the ekphrastic poetry begin!

poetry challenge

March 13, 2020

In case you missed it among all the other newsworthy news, for NPR’s poetry challenge this week, Morning Edition poet-in-residence Kwame Alexander has selected two paintings to inspire your ekphrastic poem: Heat Wave by Kadir Nelson and Young Woman At A Window by Salvador Dalí.

View the paintings and read the terms, write a poem in any style, and submit it by 8:30pm local time on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, using this form.

Alexander will take lines and excerpts from some of your submissions and create a crowdsourced, community poem. Alexander and Morning Edition host Rachel Martin will read it on air, and NPR will publish it online, where contributors will be credited.

Ekphrastic cento!

still ekphrastic

January 11, 2020

Poetry projects come and go, so it’s nice to see one that stays. We posted about Visual Verse back in 2017 (see that post here) and as of January 1, 2020, the project is still very much alive. The images posted each month are varied in style and subject, and the resulting online journal is robust and attractive. The guidelines are here. Try it out.


August 28, 2019

Though we tend to think of ekphrastic poetry as an interaction with visual art, the interplay with other art forms is equally legitimate. Enter Ben Goldberg (Bb clarinet, contra-alto clarinet) and his latest release Good Day For Cloud Fishing (Pyroclastic Records).

Goldberg explains that when he read Bender, a collection of poems by Dean Young, he “right away was just crazy about them. The feeling of a dire situation where our only hope is imagination.” So he devised a plan with his producer, David Breskin. Here’s how it worked:

  1. I write a song based on one of Dean’s poems.
  2. Get my band together and record the song.
  3. Dean is in the studio. I don’t tell him which of his poems the song comes from but as he listens on headphones he writes a new poem based on what he hears.
  4. So now we have a new poem which is like the old poem filtered through a song.
  5. Repeat.

Thus Good Day For Cloud Fishing was born. It’s brand new. Listen to a track here.

September in Twisp

July 3, 2015

An Ekphrastic Assortment

Explore the possibilities of art-inspired poetry for two days in September as poet Daemond Arrindell conducts “An Ekphrastic Assortment” at Confluence Gallery in Twisp, Washington (“the heart of the Methow Valley”). The workshop, September 26 and 27, 2015, 9:30am to 12:30pm, will use “the current exhibit in the gallery to influence our writing and as jumping off points for engaging several different forms including found poems, persona, anaphora, structured free verse, and more.” There will be a participant reading at Confluence Gallery on Sunday, September 27, at 4:00pm.

Seattle poet and performer Daemond Arrindell is on the faculty of the Washington State Teaching Artist Training (TAT) Lab, Cornish College of the Arts and Freehold Theatre, and is Writer in Residence for the Skagit River Poetry Foundation and the Seattle Arts & Lectures Writers In The Schools program. He was a 2013 Jack Straw Writer, a 2014 VONA/Voices Writer’s Workshop fellow and has performed nationwide.

For more information and to register, visit Confluence Gallery, or contact Executive Director Salyna Gracie at 509-997-2787 or

photo by LRK 1970

We’ve mentioned ekphrasis and ekphrastic poetry in several posts. At its most basic, ekphrasis links two art forms, using one to describe or evoke the other. Ross Goodwin, a graduate student at NYU ITP, has mechanized ekphrasis in a way that exceeds this writer’s technical knowledge but has the potential for opening new vistas into visual/verbal interactions.

Goodwin’s invites you to share an image with his app, which “reads” the image and generates a “lexograph” — a dense stream of text based on what it “sees.” The text could be a source for found poetry, or phrases within it could become prompts for new poems related to the original image. It’s quirky, crazy, fun, and under development.

To see what had to say about the photograph above, click here. To learn more about Ross Goodwin’s projects, visit The Hypertext.
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LRK photo 1970

bookish inspiration

June 4, 2015


If you’re looking for art resources in print to inspire your writing or fuel your research, here are a couple of suggestions:

The Whatcom Museum, in Bellingham, Washington, has announced the opening of the Joyce Morse Reference Library. Located in the Lightcatcher building and open by appointment on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the library “contains more than 500 titles about art and artists from the Pacific Northwest, Whatcom County history, and the history and art of Indians of the Pacific Northwest.” To view the catalog of titles, visit the Bellingham Public Library online catalog.

If you’d rather browse online, visit the The Metropolitan Museum of Art site, MetPublications. With some 1,500 titles (and growing), the collection includes books, online publications, and Met Bulletins and Journals published since 1964. Except for in-print publications, everything is downloadable, free, as PDFs. Browse all 1,534 titles here.

As a side note, if you’re looking for prompts to inspire ekphrastic poetry, visit the Met’s Collection page and subscribe to Artwork of the Day.

315 times a whisper

May 1, 2015

Satellite Collective - TelephoneYesterday’s post mentioned ekphrasis, in which the paintings of Jacob Lawrence served as inspiration for poems. Today’s post continues the theme with TELEPHONE, a project of the Satellite Collective in New York.

Based on the child’s game in which one person whispers a word or phrase to the next person, then it travels around the circle and is spoken aloud (often to great hilarity), this “game” invited its first participants to respond, in their chosen medium, to a Breton fisherman’s prayer, “Oh God thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.” From there, additional artists and writers responded to that person’s interpretation, and so on.

The results are presented in a beautifully conceived website that “presents 315 original and interconnected works in 18 different art forms, created specifically for this experiment by artists from 159 cities in 42 countries.” Enjoy.

Want more on ekphrastic poetry? Watch “Pintura/Palabra: Poetry Inspired by Art,” a talk by poets Brenda Cárdenas and Valerie Martínez on the Library of Congress website.

panel 60

The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is currently showing One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Works (through September 7, 2015), an exhibit that traces — in art, music and words — “the Great Migration, the multi-decade mass movement of African Americans from the rural South to the urban North that started around 1915.”

Included in the exhibit are 60 small, captioned works painted by Jacob Lawrence when he was just 23 years old — “The Migration Series.” MoMA has created a special website for the exhibit, with detailed information about each of the paintings as well as the history and culture of the time. In conjunction with One-Way Ticket,

“MoMA has commissioned ten celebrated poets, selected by Elizabeth Alexander, to write poems inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series, which are included in the exhibition catalogue and website. This event, moderated by Alexander, presents debut readings of these poems by Rita Dove, Nikky Finney, Terrance Hayes, Tyehimba Jess, Yusef Komunyakaa, Patricia Spears Jones, Natasha Trethewey, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Crystal Williams, and Kevin Young.”

The reading will be held Friday, May 1, 2015, at the Museum of Modern Art. If you’re not in New York, browse the One-Way Ticket website and write your own ekphrastic poems.
. . . . .
image: And the migrants kept coming by Jacob Lawrence, 1941

Baltimore lights up

March 18, 2015

photo by Jenny O'Grady

Not long ago we mentioned the Baltimore LED billboard project. Well, they’re at it again. The Baltimore Ekphrasis Project is a collaboration between 33 pairs of Baltimore-area writers and artists. The results (artwork plus poems or poem excerpts) will be on rotating display on the LEDBaltimore Billboard through the week of April 6 and will also be published in a special online edition of The Light Ekphrastic. More on Facebook.
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photo by Jenny O’Grady

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