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After Ekphrasis

By Sina Queyras

A found dish. Shallow and sweet.

A little around the edges.

A lacking in the middle.

Several lines converging where all begins.

A dark beginning, a convergence.

Something yearning for fin.

Something escaping depth.

Crevice of light.

Green memory of fish bones.

Equating something with or without toes.

In a moment, air.

While crafting the post that was to be posted today (and will now be posted Tuesday…) I found myself staring at a painting to my left and thinking about ekphrasis or the function of description in contemporary poetry. Thinking of Tender Buttons, for example, and how liberating that text was for me. Thinking of how my students engage in this practice after seeing a/ flat art and b/ conceptual art. Thinking about an exercise in description. Thinking too of Kenny Goldsmith’s  comments about how we look at art vs. how we look at poetry during his talk at Concordia in January. One doesn’t, for example, try to read a painting from the top left corner, describing it square by square the way an artist might have blocked it in…and then wondering of course, what that would be like. This reminded me of a post on Don Share’s blog a while back in which he noted or queried as he does so well, the idea that ekphrasis, and perhaps the lit mag, are dead. Do you think ekphrasis is dead? What are we doing when we are writing poems about art? What makes for a remarkable ekphrastic  poem? How far can we take our descriptions? Can you guess what the painting I described above is?

Check out Goldsmith on Cole Swenson on what to do besides “describe it” here.


Posted in Uncategorized on Saturday, March 27th, 2010 by Sina Queyras.