Fresh modes: Towards a radical ekphrasis

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51 Citations (Scopus)


The original poetry in this hybrid critical/creative paper seeks to find acts of making that are equivalent or complementary to those of other art forms and to construct poems which respond not just in their content but in their structures, leading to a radical ekphrasis. It argues that this strategy makes for invigorated writing. The topic of ekphrasis finds numerous references in the literature of the last thirty years, but definitions of ekphrasis have narrowed since the term’s use in ancient times. It now has a particularly close association with the visual arts. It was formerly widely understood as a poetic response to any other form of art (Francis 2009), with no special importance placed on the visual work of art (Webb 2009, 11), but rather with a general ability to make a scene vivid. These poetic experiments attempt to balance the modern impetus to respond ekphrastically with the ancient understanding; they react to works of graphic design, journalism, Indigenous painting, as well as sculpture and installations, and notional ekphrasis. These poetic experiments explore Olson’s dictum that form is never more than an extension of content (1972, 338) and Hejinian’s equally important idea that ‘form is not a fixture but an activity’ (1983), and end by evaluating how the intention to find new structures has affected the content of the poetry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-17
Number of pages17
JournalAxon: Creative Explorations
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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