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Poetry that sees
journal contributionposted on 2017-03-01, 00:00 authored by Cassandra AthertonCassandra Atherton, P Hetherington
There is no contemporary consensus about how best to define or understand ekphrasis. James A. W. Heffernan’s definition is broad but perhaps the most cited: ‘ekphrasis is the verbal representation of visual representation (1993: 3; emphasis original). Jane Heffernan et. al, state that ‘Ekphrasis, the act of speaking to, about, or for a work of visual or plastic art’ and focuses on whether ‘women poets bring a particular set of motives and intentions to their ekphrastic encounters’ (2009: 15), a very interesting question that deserves further discussion. David Kennedy argues, ‘Ekphrasis is not … so much a matter of paragonal struggle between word and image as an attempt to bring art into the realm of our contingency’ (2012: 3), while John Hollander emphasises, ‘the problematic feature of poetic ekphrasis: its strangeness lies as much in what it does not notice as in what it singles out as points for interpretation’ (1988: 6). This article argues that contemporary ekphrasis emphasises, more directly than any other literary form, the perennial connection between poetry and the visual arts – a connection so powerful that in the minds of some ancient writers, poetry and painting were different expressions of the same creative impulse.