Friday, August 31, 2012

Ecstatic for Ekphrastic

On Thursday afternoon I mailed several Ekphrastic poems to an art magazine.  Like many endeavors in my life, I had no idea that there was actually a word describing this practice (poetry about art) . . . but that word is ekphrasis.

I didn't know it, but I have been writing poetry about art (paintings, sculptures, architecture, etc.) for some time.  But now I know the word:  ekphrasis.

I have been trying to use this word in conversations around the house of late, but my wife doesn't seem to appreciate it.  For example, I attempted to tell my wife, in poetic terms, that her gray hair and wrinkles were works of art.  She didn't seem to appreciate my work.  And later, I attempted to comment on some of my culinary arts as I was cutting the cheese on the back deck.  (No, I was literally cutting the cheese . . . some very sharp Wisconsin cheddar that, as I noted, was some of the finest I had tasted.)

I'm rather ecstatic for ekphrastic comments now.

Some weeks back, while walking through the Metropolitan Museum of Art (MOMA) in New York city, I came upon a small group of gawkers hovering in front of the masterpiece, The Starry Night.  There were no photographs allowed, but I managed to string together a few memorable lines in my head about this painting before I walked away.  They are still with me and will be a part of my memory until I get beaten over the head with a bag of oranges.

Words, of course, can have much longer-lasting power than images.  I can carry those words with me always.  I don't have to carry a cell phone or have an app to pull them up, or to remember that painting. All I have to do is avoid alzheimers.

That's why I'm ecstatic for ekphrastic. (And it's interesting to note that the word, ekphrastic, is never included in computer spell-checkers.)  Technology doesn't know everything.

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