Have you heard of this Ekphrasis thing? I like this definition I found on Wikipedia: “Ekphrasis has been considered generally to be a rhetorical device in which one medium of art tries to relate to another medium by defining and describing its essence and form, and in doing so, relate more directly to the audience, through its illuminative liveliness.” I love the sound of “illuminative liveliness.” Apparently, this idea of one art form describing another art form is, literally, ancient and noted as far back as Homer’s Illiad in which he references the completed shape of Hephaestus’s shield.
If you follow my work or website, you know that for the past few years I have been active in the Postcard Fiction Collaborative, a form of ekphrasis where writers write flash fiction pieces inspired by photographs. You may also be aware of my participation in Pecha Kucha a couple of years back. Pecha Kucha, an international event, can also be considered a form of ekphrasis. Creatives have twenty slides and twenty seconds per slide to talk about their work. This use of image and spoken word (or sometimes in Taos, dance, music, poetry and improv) also allows two or more mediums to play off of each other.
Another example of Ekphrasis, might be video poems, which I love and have made two; Threadbare and Sweet Dreams. In these cases, I had already written the prose and used video or photography to illuminate my writing.
Most recently, Ekphrasis has been used as a means of bringing art and poetry together in events all over the country.
The most interesting form of Ekphrasis comes when more than one artist is at play. Lucky for me, I live in the most creative small town in America (you can quote me on that) full of artists, writers, musicians, and philanthropists (we need those to support all the creatives). Thanks to one amazingly inspired poet, Jen Acampora, we will be having an Ekphrasis event on April 25th here in Taos titled, Xphrasis. The event will take place inside a Salon/Gallery space called Salon X, hence the play on the name, Ekphrasis to Xphrasis. Love it. All the writers will read their work for the opening which will have both the art and framed poems/flash on display for people to buy.
Additionally, as if that wasn’t enough, Acampora encouraged artist and writers to extend the conversation outside of the opening and gallery exhibit and started a interactive blog. Check it out here: Xphrastic. For the sake of “illuminative liveliness,” I submited a piece to compliment a painting by the surrealist painter Randall LaGro.