Writing w/Van Gogh

If you are not familiar with ekphrastic writing, look it up. Try it. Find a piece of visual art that inspires you and write a poem in response to it. My friend Jane Costain just published her chapbook, Small Windows, all of which is ekphrastic. Lighthouse Writers Workshop sponsors a monthly drop-in writing session led by Michael Henry at Denver Art Museum. And Lighthouse collaborates with American Museum of Western Art in another monthly ekphrastic writing event. In fact, I have a poem forthcoming in AMWA’s annual publication, Writing the West, Vol III.

Of course, you may know the famous poem “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by William Carlos Williams, a fine example of the genre. Last week one of my favorite libraries, Anythink Wright Farms, held an unusual event that relates. The library brought in two visual artists from Violet Hive Art Therapy. And with guidance from Amy and Bridget, we were encouraged to create a piece of visual art inspired by Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” or “Sunflowers.”

Far from the comfort of words I hesitated but also remembered that many years ago I had enjoyed a drawing class. And whoa! The technique of looking at only the sunflowers and trusting my hand with the pencil, something appeared on my blank page. And here it is, a lion (sort of) from a sunflower, a poem in oil crayon.


I’m not going to give up writing, but drawing was not as scary as I thought it would be. My insistence on logic made me give it a stem so instead of a sunflower, my flower is a Dandy Lion. And those eyes, the hidden message, says Amy, is that I’m looking for something. If I find out what that is, I’ll let you know.

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