Saturday, August 22, 2015


My visual arts past has a lot to answer for. At first my poems were often described as ‘painterly.’ Then it made me want to produce art & text works. Then it made me want to create haiga. Then it made me ... You see what I mean … I poke about, never get passed a dabble …

It also has me hooked on ekphrastic poetry - again I just poke about. I think I’ve written maybe three ekphrastic poems in all the years I’ve been writing. I have a couple which are descriptive responses to visual works, however some definitions say that ekphrastic poetry needs to do more than simply describe. I aspire to that and there I am stuck.

Except on one occasion. Jennifer Kemarre Martiniello invited me to watch her at work at the Glassworks in Canberra and to write for her then forthcoming exhibition at Belconnen Arts Centre (BAC). I’d hoped to write a few as the artform and Jenni’s own work certainly are inspiring enough.

I managed one poem. I know I brought more to it than simple description. I researched indigenous basket making searching for more than images, trying to understand the context of land, culture and community to some degree.  My research was superficial compared to Jennifer’s but still I hope I painted a world of women’s making adequately.

I like the poem and felt honoured to play a small part in Jenni’s project, alongside Berry poet Chris MansellThe poem was a finalist in the 2014 Aesthetica Poetry Award and published in the following Aesthetica Creative Writing Annual 2015But it feels like a one-off. 

It’s an aim to write a series of ekphrastic poems at some later stage – to rise to the challenge. There would be much reading to do among other things. Here’s a small start:

1. A fine example of an ekphrastic poem is When the Wind Stopped by Erin Shiel, published in Cordite Poetry Review, November 2014. See the article ‘When the Wind Stopped’ - Erin Shiel and Judith Beveridge.

2. Rattle (US) now has a monthly ekphrastic poetry challenge. The current challenge to write poetry in response to a selected photograph by Howard R. Debs, closes on August 31. Visit

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