Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

eyeScapes: an ekphrastic reading and exhibition

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The headline may have you asking "What the heck is ekphrastic"? It's the technical term for writing (usually poetry) created in response to visual art.
Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" may be the most famous example, but many poets have found inspiration in painting, sculpture, and photography. Symbols, layering, suggestions and nuances are common to poetry and visual media. There's, not incidentally, a long list of poets who also create visual art -- in Canada, Joe Rosenblatt, Bill Bissett, and the late PK Page come to mind.
But, right in Toronto, the Long Dash group of poets (Clara Blackwood, Yaqoob Ghaznavi, Merle Nudelman, John Oughton, Mary Lou Soutar-Hynes, Elana Wolff) may be setting a world record, in collaboration with the studio painters of the Women's Art Association of Canada (WAAC), which occupies a venerable duplex on Prince Arthur Ave. that Emily Carr stayed in during Toronto visits. Most ekphrastic efforts are single poems or suites here and there, but the Long Dash writers and WAAC artists are now marking their seventh year of collaboration resulting in an art exhibition and accompanying reading during National Poetry Month.
Some poems are written "after" paintings, some find a resonance with visual works, and a few paintings have been inspired by poems. Some of the artists have tried their hands at writing poetry, and poets have taken part in collage workshops to sharpen their visual skills.
Come and see this year's crop yourself on Sunday, April 13 at 2 p.m. The WAAC is at 23 Prince Arthur Ave., near the Bedford exit of the St. George subway. Admission is free, refreshments are available, and the event is sponsored by the Canada Council and the League of Canadian Poets.

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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