Monthly Archives: October 2015

ekphrasis

According to the Poetry Foundation “an ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art.”

Lately I have been writing several poems in response to Edward Hopper’s paintings. The feeling of isolation in his paintings lends itself to suggestive interpretation as to what the characters in the painting are thinking or feeling. Here is one of them, and mine is certainly more interpretative than merely descriptive.

Hopper’s Eleven a.m., 1926

she sits

like so many other endless mornings

naked in the blue upholstered chair

staring out the open window of her high rise apartment,

hunched forward with her arms resting on her knees,

her posture seems suggestive,

she is wondering just what to do.

Her thick red hair hides her face so one wonders at her expression,

what she is feeling, thinking:

longing, sadness, despair?

or just enjoying the morning sun,

taking it all in before dressing for the day,

before she steps into her uniform to work the lunch shift,

before she endures the pinches and the stares,

before she picks the tips up off the tables,

before she returns to the apartment stinking of grease and cigarettes,

the lingering leftovers of the night shift.

and so naked she sits

wondering just how many mornings like this one:

eleven a.m. Monday morning

hunched over in a blue chair

counting down her days

in a high rise over the city.

Now try yours. Choose a painting or well-known photograph that moves you and write a poem in response to it. Please share!

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MFA in Creative Writing programs

MFA in creative writing programs have become extremely popular in recent years. My question is: will an MFA in creative writing really make me a better writer, or will I merely imitate what I have been taught, taking on my professors’ style, or writing for their approval? Yes, if we are serious about our work we certainly want to be the best we can be, but what about all of our wonderful American writers who had virtually none or little formal education? How would Twain’s writing be different if there was an MFA program in his time? Or Hemingway? Or O’Neill, who dropped out of college because his professor criticized his work, saying his plays were too wordy with little action (which is true, but oh, what words!) I have noticed that many of the poems published today in the top journals, especially Poetry, are surprisingly identical in style and language.

I would really like your input. Please post your opinion/response.

D. Marie