Tightrope Books

Who Knew Sappho, Keats, and Rilke Had Anything in Common with Adobe, Heidi Montag, and the Plastinators?

By Tightrope Books | February 4th, 2010 | Print This Post | Email This Post | Leave a Comment

Tightrope Books Writing Without a Net Workshop 7
The Art of Poetry about Art: Writing Ekphrastic Poems

(or Who Knew Sappho, Keats, and Rilke Had Anything in Common with Adobe, Heidi Montag, and the Plastinators?)

Saturday, April 17, 2010
12-5 p.m.
$50
Refreshments will be served.

Poetic genres, from love poems to nature poems to elegies, endure because their subjects remain forever capable of throwing us out of balance and moving us to speak. Poems about works of art, or ekphrastic poems, are no different. Whether Achilles’s shield in The Iliad, Keats’s “Attic” urn in his “Ode,” or Atwood’s blurred and smeared image in “This Is a Photograph of Me,” the works of art in poems serve as vehicles for exploring a wide range of questions: of community and identity, of the real and the unreal, of loss and preservation, of what it means to make and to perceive.

In this workshop, designed for writers of all levels, we will take a close look at the past, present, and future of this fertile genre as a means of refining our poetic craft. Along with workshopping our own poems about works of art, we will examine a variety of poems written in the ekphrastic tradition and discuss how the tradition must inevitably change with new forms of “art” (from plastic surgery to plastination) and new means of composing poems (from cellphones to Photoshop). We will end the day by visiting a local gallery and putting our shared insights to work, creating new poems on the spot or, at the very least, sketching the first faint lines of a future masterpiece.


Daniel Scott Tysdal is the author of Predicting the Next Big Advertising Breakthrough Using a Potentially Dangerous Method (Coteau 2006), which received the ReLit Award for Poetry (2007) and the Anne Szumigalski Poetry Award (2006). His work has appeared in a number of Canadian literary journals and has earned him both an honourable mention at the 2003 National Magazine Awards and a place in the finals of the CBC’s 2005 National Poetry Face-Off. His second book of poetry, The Mourner’s Book of Albums, is forthcoming from Tightrope Books fall 2010. He teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto, Scarborough.

“Daniel Scott Tysdal’s poetry is an exhilarating mix of pop culture, philosophy, mythology and visual art. Here is a poet who possesses the rare combination of experimental instinct and communicative acuity. Read this book for its confident virtuosity, its innovative spirit, and its surprising generosity.”
~Jon Paul Fiorentino

“Tysdal recognizes and deconstructs—playfully—the patented absurdity of conventional language. He employs academic, literary, and pop cultural terms, references, discourses, and images to underscore the implicit argument here that standard semantic structures—rhetorics—obscure truth and, thus, Justice. Yet, for all their high-minded, critical jouissance, the lyrics are lively with
accessible puns, jokes, games, and satire.”
~George Elliot Clarke

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