Ekphrastic Fantastic

This week the young Vikings explored ekphrastic poetry and read examples by Anne Sexton, Frank O’Hara, and Homer. They were then tasked with picking a favorite painting of theirs and writing a poem in response. I am so proud of these budding poets.

Their Voices

By Ace E.

After Charles White’s Harvest Talk

I am awake in the night

chest a’ poundin’

my heart has been called

Connect made.

Raspy, old with joyful swings

like jazz music in New Orleans.

“Baby,” they call me

“Be wild, be strong.”

Them white folks don’t sing our song.

Lord spoke to us the day Heavens darkened.

Said “We was strong.

That we’d fight long.

But worry no more.

Paradise is just on the other side.”

I saw they’s tools, them hands

and feet.

Worn and tired they looked yet

like angels. They stood steady

glowing and powerful.

Iah held them strong.

“Baby” they called me as they faded away.

“You’s is strong, don’ give in.

Lord has his eye on you.

Sin can be wash’d away.

Worry ‘bout what more can you do.

Not what you couldn’.”

And they faded away.

The Kiss

By Sofia Z.

After Klimt’s The Kiss

The warm embrace of a glow

the glow from within to embrace each other

a touch, a whisper, a craving

a painting once crafted for a woman

a union of unspoken words and vulnerability

igniting a spark that can only come from within.

An embrace that takes you places

takes you to a field of pink and white tulips

takes you to the yellow of summer.

It brings you back to the yellow of your childhood.

A calling, a touch, an embrace.

It brings you to the seagulls and the waves crashing.

It brings silence to the loud.

A warm embrace, a moment of sun,

spiritually we connect

and physically we’re intertwined.

Every Carefully Calculated Shape Shows Me Him, Dissonance

By Jaden F. 

After Portrait of Pablo Picasso by Gris

They ask me do you know this man.

How do I respond?

That’s the funny thing. I don’t know.

It’s like five years never happened. I try to

remember but it’s just fragments, like a dream.

I try to recall a nightmare I try to forget.

That’s how I know him, a nonsensical puzzle

of odd shapes.

Was he my boss?

My abuser?

The man I thought I could call a father?

I long for the answer, but no, my

only visual, a neurological photo shattered.

Oddly this fragmentation is the only way I 

can remember him, a collage of half-cut squares

clumped with some organic geometrics. 

Triangles, makes sense, he was always punctual, precise

and perfectly cut. The evidence is me.

The way he shines as opposed to the consuming dark,

he was a guardian, I don’t ever recall being hurt.

I find peace in this distortion though without

a clear image, he an be whatever I want

How do you know this man, they say?

Not well, but from what I could tell, he was sharp

lucid and structural. 

Girl With Pearl Earring

By Zamzam A

After Girl with a Pearl Earring by Vermeer

His brushes softly caress the canvas

the air hangs heavy with the sickly smell of oil

and weight of his gaze

in this moment I am acutely aware

I am both subject and object

solely for the pleasure and consumption

each glance stripping me bare

the facade I’ve carefully constructed

each stroke unravels me like frayed thread

a recognition of my complexity

beyond beauty

and so, as he captures my likeness

I cannot help but wonder will I ever be more

than an empty vase waiting to be decorated

or will I be a soul laid out to bare

in all my imperfections.

Life and Death at The Whitney

By Ruby R.

After Still Life With Stapler by Porter

I am waiting and the waiter has left his stapler.

The flowers on the table are beautiful.

Why did the waiter have a stapler?

 I remembered all my books today, my bag

layed out.

I’m so literal I can’t get the stapler

out of my head why he had it.

Back now here I was over there

disoriented at best.

This is not Chagall, or Cezanne, this is not

Picasso or O’keefe, Basquiat, or that woman

I hated. 

 I’m in a daze my legs are numb my ears

burnt from the quiet crushing of the audio tour.

How can this room be quiet and loud at the same time?

You know, I’ve never felt closer to death than staring

at this painting. But last time, when we saw

Sky Above Clouds IV or the time before when we saw

The Village and I, I felt close to death then, too. 

Art museums just make you feel like that. 



“Writing poetry makes me feel like I can see myself, like I can see my reflection, but not in a mirror, in the world. I write and I know I can be reflected.”
-Oscar S.

“Writing poetry makes me feel free.”
-Buenda D.

“Writing poetry is like your best friend.”
-Jessica M.