I contributed the following short ekphrastic writing instruction to a project designed to inspire the creation of poetry zines, responding to photographs. This project was funded by 4Culture and was intended to begin with an in-person workshop and exhibit at Centro Cultural Mexicano in Redmond, Washington in March of 2020, but because of the pandemic was delayed and eventually moved online in the spring of 2022. The project included the distribution of take-home ekphrastic poetry kits, which were available from 15 May to 15 August 2022. The kits included prefolded zine templates for poetry and photographs on adhesive paper for making your own zine (handmade magazine), a set of photographs to print out and use where you wished in your zine, and guidance for writing poems in response to the photographs. The artist team included Lana Blinderman (photographer and photo-based artist), Kevin Boček (poet and writer), Tonya Dean, aka Maybe (mixed-media artist), and Michael Dylan Welch. See Facebook event.
The take-home ekphrastic poetry kit described the project as follows: +
When poetry and images meet, their impact multiplies. Put them in a zine, and this inspiration takes on a tangible form. Visual plus Poetry began as a dialogue between artists Lana Blinderman and Kevin Boček. Kevin wrote poetry in response to Lana’s photographs, and Lana created digital collages in response to Kevin’s writing. You can view this project by visiting www.lanablinderman.com and choosing Works/Visual plus Poetry from the navigation bar. In collaboration with painter and zine-maker Maybe and poet Michael Dylan Welch, we are offering you a chance to experience the satisfaction of putting words to images. Here are some instructions and inspiration from the artist team.
Here’s my instruction for ekphrastic writing in response to photographs by Lana Blinderman:
To start, look at each photograph and commit to just a single word that comes to you quickly in response. Then say or consider why that word came to you. Play with that intuition until a poem emerges, then write it by hand in a creative or ordinary way to add your stamp of interaction to the zine. Your handwriting is an expression of you. By writing your poem in a zine by hand, the zine gains your distinct character, and even your distinct visual brand. It doesn’t have to be beautiful calligraphy (in fact, perhaps better if it isn’t). It can be scruffy or neat, or it can vary, even within a single poem. Let your writing be natural, how you normally write (or print), and make the poem into visual art just by letting it be your writing. Let yourself free, even leaping away from the photograph if that’s where you want to go. The poem itself can react spontaneously to a photograph or you might revise extensively. Trust yourself and what you feel in response, or let the photo serve as a random starting point that you leave behind (the psychological overtones will still connect your writing to the image). Perhaps avoid just describing the photo, because anybody could do that. But only you can follow your intuition to expand on the art, adding another dimension to it with your words.