Turning Towards, Turning Away: Ekphrastic Poetry (International)

Turning Towards, Turning Away: Ekphrastic Poetry (International)

Narrate, reflect on and articulate great works of visual art

In this course we will explore the connection between visual art and writing. We will imagine the great Western poetry tradition of ekphrasis, which translates from Greek as ‘description’, as a series of Matryoshka dolls nestling in one another, art begetting art. How can a poem springboard off another piece of (non-verbal) art? How can we renew the original work while creating an entirely new response? We will find innovative ways to stare, ponder and enter the frame. And then we will ‘turn away quite leisurely’ as in Auden’s great ekphrastic poem ‘Musee des Beaux Arts’ to make poems of our own. What conversations can we have with a work of art? How can we reply beyond mere description? Is writing about art in any way like ‘dancing about architecture’? We must bring our own stories, memories and concerns to the work and find a form to synthesize the two. We can take centre stage as the torso in Rilke’s ‘Archaic Torso of Apollo’, who exhorts: ‘You must change your life’, or we could stand in the wings like the two monkeys in Wislawa Szymborska’s ‘Two Monkeys by Brueghel’, but we must be visionary.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.

More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.

About Tishani Doshi View Profile

Tishani Doshi is an award-winning writer and dancer of Welsh-Gujarati descent. Born in Madras, India, in 1975, she received a masters in writing from the Johns Hopkins University, and worked in London in advertising before returning to India in 2001, where a chance encounter with the choreographer Chandralekha led her to an unexpected career in dance. In 2006, her book of poems, Countries of the Body, won the Forward Poetry Prize for best first collection in the UK. She is also the recipient of an Eric Gregory Award for poetry and winner of the All-India Poetry Competition. Her first novel, The Pleasure Seekers, was published to critical acclaim in 2010 and has been translated into several languages. Her most recent book is a collection of poems, Girls are Coming out of the Woods (Bloodaxe). She lives on a beach in Tamil Nadu with her husband and three dogs. www.tishanidoshi.com

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– Summer 2018 survey response

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