Writing Poems Based on Art | John Davis Jr. | Skillshare

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

1 Lessons (23m)
    • 1. Ekphrastic Poetry Tutorial

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About This Class

In this class, we will develop, revise, and craft poems based upon artwork. These kinds of poems are known as ekphrasis (or ekphrastic poetry). For our purposes, we will be using nature photographs provided by artist Jim Futrell.

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John Davis Jr.

Florida Poet and Educator


Hi! I'm a seventh-generation Floridian with deep roots here in the Sunshine State. I write poetry predominantly, and I've received quite a few awards over the years. My four books are Middle Class American Proverb (Negative Capability Press, 2014), Hard Inheritance (Five Oaks Press, 2016), The Boys of Men (chapbook by Kelsay Books, 2014), and Growing Moon, Growing Soil: Poems of my Native Land (self-published). I currently teach English, Creative Writing, and Literature at the university level, but I teach what I most love here on SkillShare: Poetry! I hope you join me on this journey. 

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1. Ekphrastic Poetry Tutorial: greeting students. Glad you could join us today. Today we're talking about X drastic poetry that is poetry that is based upon artwork or other visual stimuli, depending on your needs. When we first began talking about EC fast IQ poetry, one of the important things to keep in mind is this is really up to you as distinct. This is up to you as the individual poet, the individual writer. And the reason why it is so personal is because the art that you choose is going to be indicative of your personality and your preferences to begin with. So without any further ado, let's begin taking a look and act fast. IQ poetry. For the record, I realized that's not in everyday word. Here you go. All right. This word is taken from the word ec phrases, and this ordered essentially means exactly what we just got done saying, which is X racist? Is creation specifically literary creation based upon someone else's art? Someone else's work to begin with eso Let's say you decided that you wanted to write a poem about one of the paintings of Salvador Dali that would be extra stick poetry, and that's what will be thinking about talking about today. Get rid of our key term right up here. And the next thing I want to point you in the direction of is a mindset where you are recalling various artworks that you have seen. Think about the last time you went to a museum. Think about the last time you went to a place where you encountered truly great art, and one of the things you will probably come to realize is certain pieces and certain media stand out more to you than others do. For some people, oil on canvas attracts the eye and becomes very memorable. For other people, sculpture may be the case on. Still, for others, you may prefer something like, say, water coat whatever it ISS, whether the piece of art that immediately comes to mind for you is oil on canvas with watercolor sculpture or one of the many other kinds of media that exist. One of the things that you will find to be true is that that piece that you have thought of is something that holds a specific personal relevance. Teoh. And here's what I mean, But it may be that that painting or that piece of art is somehow connected emotionally to an experience you have had or two. Perhaps your background. There are a number of different factors that may go into why your mind thought of the artwork that it did. But the important thing is you now have an idea of the kind of artwork that speaks to you that is, you have a sense of artwork that is going to be appealing to your aesthetic sensibilities. So now that we have that in mind, now that we have an idea of the kind of artwork that we're going to be looking for and the kind of artwork that perhaps will be generative for you, that will allow you to produce poetry, let's talk for just a minute or two about what we do and do not want to do Whenever we're riding eggs. Drastic balls stay with Here we have our handy dandy two column chart. Do's Endo's for X, Drastic homes. All right. To start with, do this is going to sound cheesy. Fair morning. Do have fun, right? The reason why I make this our number one rule is because a lot of times people come into this project thinking, Oh, I have to be so deep and I have to be so meaningful and I have to be so literary when I'm writing and expressed it call. That's a fine ambition. It's a nice idea to try to be very deep, very symbolic and all of those sorts of things. However, however, we're really doing this because we have something to express. We're doing this because we enjoy a particular piece of artwork and we want to do it justice with words. So with that in mind, first and foremost, have fun. The flip side of this, of course, ISS don't try to be, and you'll see this in the course materials as well. Don't try to be deep. All right, whatever people make this mistake. One thing that happens is inevitably they always come away from their work. Sounding pseudo philosophical, they come away from their work sounding like someone who was trying to be, um, very inspirational and very well, frankly, almost kind of Greek or Roman. Or we could even go so far as to say, like a Chinese philosopher, that's not really what you want you're going to do now. Maybe It's the case that your writing a poem where you want to sound deeply philosophical. But the chances of that home reaching a wider audience on reaching the kind of audience that frankly, you want to reach. And I would imagine that would be a fairly universal audience. This isn't going to do that being deeply philosophical about things. And so for certainly there's a time and place for that. And there are poems in which that will be the ambition. But this is not one of, um, also in our do list. Okay, when you are choosing your art, when you are choosing the art you wish to respond to in verse, one of the things you're going to want to do is this. Choose work you like. Why is this important? Well, here's the thing. Let's say you choose an artwork. That was your grandmother's favor. You choose a piece of art that waas your significant others favour. Well, now you're going to be writing from a place of removal. You're going to be writing from a place of proxy rather than writing from a place that is deep within your own self. Very bluntly, very plain. Um on the flip side of this, don't choose the work just because somebody else liked it if someone else, for example, like the Jackson Pollock painting. But you despise that style. You're not going to want to try to write a poem about something you despise here again. There may be a time and place for that, but for this project, not so much. So don't choose what on others enjoy or what others have told you that you should write about one of the modern thought leaders that I tend to put stock in Is Daniel Pink in Daniel Pinks Book Drive The truth about what motivates us. He takes a close look at issues like motivation, and I think that one of the points that he raises in that book is when people are working from a place that is not autonomous, they are less productive. And this kind of goes right along with If you were trying to write about something that someone else has said, Oh, this is so great. This is so good. You should really do this. One of the things that's going to happen is you're going to feel even even a little bit, right? A little bit of removal. Like we said, you're writing about something that somebody else liked, but not necessarily something that you are terribly wild about to be blood here again. So she's working. Finally, 1/3 point. Don't begin with a whole, all right? And so this should really be over here, right? Because more of it don't rather than being do I apologize? However, um, one of my mentors once made a really brilliant observation. No one sits down to write a poem by saying now I will write a goal. Right, Holmes, come about as a result of a process, almost a metamorphosis. And that process of that metamorphosis is one that relies first upon not writing a poll. Believe it or not, you're not going to sit down and attempted to craft stands. Is on line breaks and all of these various literary devices on your first go around and the reason you're not going to be, that is because frankly, if you do that, you're gonna be doing something kind of like this. All right, you're going to be writing from a very artificial police, and you don't want to write from artificial police. You want to ride from a place of great earnestness and genuineness and authenticity. So that's why that's why I'm saying what I'm saying. All right, so let's get rid of our shoes and domes Now that we know what we should and should not be looking forward, what we should and should not be doing while writing a drastic poems, Let's begin to take a look at some work that has expressed it. Quote. All right, so I don't have a projector set up here. Anything. This is just a very rudimentary set up. But I want you to think for just a minute. About of over poll. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. Listen, my Children, and you shall hear Midnight ride of Paul Revere on the 18 people in 75. Hardly a man is now alive proves that famous day here in that which is based upon a historical event, we can actually hear the horse's hooves. We can, since the parallelism that the author has used in an attempt, of course, to emulate the hoofbeats of the horse written by Paul Revere. The meter that is applied there has been very intentionally selected. And I would encourage you to do the same on this page that you will be looking at here within skills. Here you will find an activity. I have uploaded a number of different photographs of wild life in some sense and very since under gether things all Florida bass because, well, frankly, that's where I, however, what I would like you to do with that, as I would like for you not to attempt to write a pool right? I don't like, he said on our little list that I had appeared previously. Don't begin by trying to write a problem. That's a great way to frustrate yourself. In addition to all of the other things I mentioned already, one of the things that will happen is sometimes when people sit down and they say to themselves, and now I will write a whole immediately. A very specialized for of writer's block kicks in. You don't want that to happen. You want to have flow right? You want to have a very liberated imagination to be blunt here again. But the thing about that is you can't have a liberated imagination if you are to business worrying about the constrictions of other considerations. Right? So try to try to put that aside. Just do free, right? Okay, Just write down words and ideas and thoughts and senators Any crazy thing that comes to about the image that you see in front. Hey, whichever photographed you happen to choose, just begin by writing random responses to that piece because sooner or later, as you were doing that, one of the things that will come about is you will see that those words and phrases and ideas begin to take on a shape. Or perhaps they began to in a direction that you might want to explore further in an actual so that that's my advice to you. Her George, too. EC freezes begin by simply writing down anything. Words, reasons, ideas. Even if you have to sketch in the margin to prompt your creative reflex, that's fine, that that's a perfectly acceptable thing to do. In fact, it's been proved, so you're the other thing we need to think has your thinking about a drastic poultry. Take IHS. We need to begin thinking about some of the book have you that we may find ourselves because often a drastic poetry will necessitate the use of words and language that we don't ordinarily use, right. The art world is full of terminal we don't often have. You are so four eggs. How often might someone use a phrase such as that how often we use that is more right and course There's a lot. Anything from brush seems relatively simple all the way up to various formats. Various media used that we don't Well, you have to do something because it's relevant we're talking about. No, there is depth of field. We often also about after we have to think about things like right. And of course, these are all photography. Relieved now. Death feel applies to a number of different kinds, but right with this and if you don't know what these feel free who looked, but these of the kinds of words and phrases that you might have to use a that is a crest, right? One of the other things that I think as we're talking about February addiction, I say this sometimes what it's like to be difficult. Just sometimes we like to write about I'm Lee understood Mike use that others were going to find a challenge. My suggestion. What may this goes along with being abstruse to a certain degree is expected, you know, work by certain editor. But doing this too much the your clients fairly because they don't get you made them feel. And so being two streams, using too many words that are too difficult for two highly special. Like George, you can leave your audience feeling left out you like. So almost since we're on the subject, Tencent's we're talking vote for fasting and our terminal. So one of the other things that I would caution you against beware of having a focus that is too tight or too. Why was it? Well, the same thing is true in poetry. That is true. If your subject is too small to say, if your subject is not big enough, you will be able to write something exceed like a haiku for exams. And it probably won't be very good hiking. So seeing yourself that from, But to be perfectly honest, if you have a very small a very small ball, it's hard four hours to create me in a very short space. It can be done, and it has by many great poets previous. But if you're focus is to tie or too narrow, you're setting yourself up for a greater challenge than half. And when you're just trying to have fun with work, um, that same Beware if your goose is entirely too broad. Right, Because the same thing is true in the inverse. That was true about having the two. Tiger, if your focus is too broad. Well, now you're trying to climb the mountain without any equipped. All right, You have two barges attack, And frankly, that also and the problem. So let's say you're thinking about thinking about food particular. Don't try to write a home fish in jail on the reason I say that is not because of fish, but because you're going to find yourself very quickly in a place where your just shortstop , right? You're running. You're very from communicate way that is relevant to your So as long as we're on the same. Okay. What to do and how. Allow me to say this to you. Choose something. No. Did you begin? Why did they choose something if you choose something? No, you're gonna be that subject, you know. But perhaps there still some unresolved issues nonetheless, because this is something know about because this is we're you're not going. You speak to that sub away here again. That is more earnest. That is more you work forces. When you were writing about that, you know about So having, let's say, happen to know more about one particular section of the Sistine Chapel you could write about this is Dean on no section. What great detail and acid does this mean you should never write about things don't know about? Certainly feel free to explore subjects and ideas on topics and artworks that you know nothing about. But make sure you begin right that you are familiarise with that so that you're going to work out that is ill informed. Right? This is sort of a big all right way discussed here today Is the big guy, right? Drastic. You have within your power, right from this course on, on the other resources that you may have personal, you have the unique ability to write home a variety of subjects because about four art is about every and so it's up to, you know, as the poet, to choose what it is you are going to write about how it is you're going to write about it and to pursue your own creative process in such a way that you find value and even has keeps, would say, truth and beauty in the process of poetry. Right, good luck.