Monday, November 1, 2010

Abstract of an Essay in Progress

As part of a graduate MFA course, I am trying to tame a paper on Musical Ekphrasis. Above is what it looks like when I work on such things. Here is the abstract of the essay.

Ekphrasis--the practice of writing poems in response to visual art--occupies a prominent place in modern and contemporary American poetry (though it dates back centuries, gaining special esteem during the era of Romanticism). Drawing on this deep ekphrastic tradition, this essay proposes "musical ekphrasis" as an equally valuable way to consider and generate contemporary poems. Musical ekphrastics are poems that represent, respond to, and engage sensuously with musical experience. Langston Hughes, Frank O'Hara, Lisel Mueller, Jean Janzen, Terrance Hayes, and others write poems that grow from various encounters with music, often experimenting with formal innovation and deeply embodied imagery. The poets engage musical experience in memorial, figurative, contextualized, lyrical ways that can be understood as relating to ekphrasis. However, the poems also have their own unique mean of poetic knowing, a way best understood in terms of improvisation between writers, musicians and readers. Practical considerations for how poets might attend to music in a generative fashion conclude the essay.

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