Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ekphrasis Strikes Again!

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Caulifower by Barbara Feith

The Guinness Book of Records probably doesn't have a category for it, but a group of writers and artists in Toronto has likely set a record for the longest-running, largest-scale collaboration anywhere between writers and visual artists. This eighth annual National Poetry Month exhibition and reading on April 26 features visual art by studio members of the Women's Art Association of Canada and associated poems by the Long Dash group. Some poems are responses to paintings or photographs; others share a common set of images or emotions. Similarly, some of the visual art is created, or altered, in response to poems.

There have been many instances of individual poems inspired by visual art -- a genre with the unwieldy title of ekphrasis. Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" is just one example. There also have been many poets who were, like Frank O'Hara, immersed in the visual arts world, or who, like Joe Rosenblatt and Bill Bissett, create visual art as well as written work. But seldom has a writing group -- in this case, the Long Dash poets Clara Blackwood, Yaqoob Gjaznavi, Merle Nudelman, John Oughton, Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes, Sheila Stewart, Elana Wolff -- worked for several years with a group of visual artists, sharing their work, finding resonances between writing and art, and becoming friends in the process. Another unusual aspect of the ongoing project is the age range of the participants, from around 40 up to the mid-80s.

"Food for the Soul: the Artful Muse" is a free National Poetry Month event, sponsored by the League of Canadian Poets and the Canada Council for the Arts. It starts at 2 p.m. Sunday, Aril 26 at the Women's Art Association of Canada, 23 Prince Arthur Ave., Toronto. In the spirit of National Poetry Month's theme celebrating food, refreshments will be served.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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John Oughton

John Oughton is the author of several books, including Time Slip: New and Selected Poems, published by Guernica Editions.

Go to John Oughton’s Author Page