cop-out post with some opinions on ekphrasis

Two things that are more interesting than what I have to say this morning: Lorna answers the New Year’s meme and Kenny G infiltrates the Poetry Foundation.

Also, our dear Mark Lamoureux is looking for ekphrastic poetry from the 20th and 21st centuries for an anthology he’s putting together. Got some recommendations? Want to make sure your favorite doesn’t get left out? Comment (he’ll read it).

There are a couple of poems in OFC that could be considered ekphrastic: 42(b), 48(b) and 72 are each descriptions of particular sculptures.

Ekphrasis could go in the list of things I don’t like from yesterday. But this is only because often when I try explaining plasticity to people they’re like, “oh! Ekphrasis.” Plasticity is not ekphrasis, although plastic poems can use ekphrasis as a device, just as they can use nodes, rhythm, rhyme, splits, etc.


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7 Responses to cop-out post with some opinions on ekphrasis

  1. Mark says:

    I’m planning on having some stuff in the anthology about the sort of membrane between ekphrastic works and concrete/plastic/vispo works as well, since that’s how I view ekphrasis, as sort of two bodies (work of art, poem) orbiting a central axis, having various proximities to each other in relation to it. In some instances, they touch, and in some occupy the point of intersection.

  2. François says:

    Totally off-topic, got the new ish of foursquare yesterday, which reminded me I still haven’t paid my dues. But I couldn’t find the Paypal button to do so. HELP!

  3. Jessica Smith says:

    Ah, I took the PayPal button down. here it is on Etsy (which is easier for me to use than PayPal, so sorry if it’s inconvenient for you; you can also go to PayPal and choose “send money” and send it to

  4. Simon says:

    I am a little confused as to the relation between ekphrasis and “plasticity” (a word I’ve never heard before.) “Taking for content the visual arts” and “using the devices of the visual arts” seem very far apart — appearing in the same poem only by coincidence?

  5. Jessica Smith says:

    Simon, you should read the introit to Organic Furniture Cellar, where you will find an outline of plasticity. But you should have already encountered it as a term for the plastic arts (architecture, sculpture) and as a term used by the DeStijl poets.

    There is no relationship between ekphrasis and plasticity. Plasticity as a term used across artforms is a way of imagining and inhabiting 3-D spaces. Ekphrasis is a word that describes the detailed description of an artwork in a poem, so that the poem brings to mind very vividly the artwork. Though ekphrasis comes from a description of a shield (which is plastic, in that it is 3-D), it has come to describe literary works that describe paintings.

  6. Jessica Smith says:

    … so ekphrasis can describe plastic arts, but it doesn’t work “plastically”. it’s a literary device, not a way of occupying/perceiving space.

    plasticity is a way that things work, are perceived, a way bodies dwell in space, a way that 3-D objects interact with other 3-D objects.

    another work that you might like for investigating plasticity is Gotthold Lessing’s Laocoon.

  7. C. S. Carrier says:

    Don’t know about plasticity, but what about Forrest Gander’s “Ligatures” for the anthology? It’s 20th Century, ekphrasis, & beautiful. Don’t know if it’s published, though it is at PENNsound. Chris.

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