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Understanding Ekphrastic Poetry

Mary Langer Thompson

Retired educator Mary Langer Thompson lead the workshop on Ekphrastic

Last weekend High Desert Poet Mary Langer Thompson taught a class on the Greek art form of ekphrasis. Imagination is the key component in ekphrastic art.

Study a toddler in playtime. Toddlers are amazing. For instance, watch a 2-year-old play with a group of stuffed animals. You hear comments, such as “You have to be quiet, Doggee”, “Don’t be sad”, “You gotta hurry”, “Come on, kitty”, “Come on, Elephant”, and “Go to sleep”. When it’s bedtime, the toddler can think of several reasons for not going to bed. The books come out, and the mom or dad reads with sleepy eyes. The 2-year-old still has energy left, however, and takes over the reading for the grownup. “Once upon a time” the toddler “reads” while observing the pictures and finishes each book with “The End!”.

Picture (or photo) reading isn’t for toddlers only. Adults look at photos and get an impression of what is taking place. That’s what happens when you read the comics, the ones without captions. Not everyone gets it, though. Could that be because, from toddler stage to adulthood, some are just more observant than others?

Ekphrasis, is a type of picture reading that is an old Greek art form. A story is told from impressions received by looking at a piece of art. Creative imagination and skill of the writer comes together in the literary art form of ekphrastic poetry. The goal of the poet is to make readers feel as though they are part of what is happening in the picture.

Take one piece of art and pass it around to a group of seven, and you’ll get seven different impressions of what was happening in the picture. It’s similar to the four gospels in the New Testament. Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John tell the same story of Christ from four different viewpoints.

A person’s imagination and perception are formed by family life, events, conditions, and circumstances from the beginning of life. Naturally, each individual sees things differently. Otherwise, it would be a boring world.

Learn more about ekphrasis and other poetry from Mary Langer Thompson. Look for her upcoming poetry handbook coming out in 2016. For more information, you can contact Mary at her website and purchase her newest book Poems in Water.

NOTE: This post contains an affiliate link which means if you click on it and make a purchase, I make a commission. This doesn’t cost you anything additional. These commissions help to keep the rest of my content free, so thank you!

Poetry by Mary Langer Thompson

Poems in Water
Mary Langer Thompson

Art Appreciation Through a Poem — Ekphrastically

A poetry workshop, focusing on Ekphrasis poem form, was recently held at Hi-Desert Oasis Used Bookstore in Apple Valley. Mary Langer Thompson led the workshop and helped those attending to understand how this poem form was an extension of the art world as early as the 1700s.

Retired educator Mary Langer Thompson lead the workshop on Ekphrastic

Retired educator Mary Langer Thompson lead the workshop on Ekphrastic poetry

Mary is California’s state senior poet laureate of 2012, a member of High Desert branch, and a retired school teacher and administrator.

Members from High Desert California Writers Club enjoyed learning how the arts can influence poetry

Members from High Desert California Writers Club enjoyed learning how the arts can influence poetry

An Ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.

In this session color cards of Pierre-Auguste Renoir acted as our close-up gallery so each poet could study a portrait to glean the details and tones of the works of art. Then poets analyzed and wrote key feelings that each portrait emitted. Then followed the task of writing an Ekphrastic-styled poem to exhibit how the painting reached them.

Others in our workshop created poignant visions of Renoir’s portraits. We shared our concepts and how the artist is able to capture so much nuance from subtle colors, body language of his subjects, and details in jewelry and clothing of the time period that all add to the experience of the poem.

A Renoir painting helped poets envision their feelings

A Renoir painting helped poets envision their feelings

And, as an example, here’s just the first few lines of my poem based on a daughter standing and mother sitting in a somber room:

            “Her Daughter Julie”

We walked slowly from the hilltop monuments.

The Reverend held my mother’s hand until

the sounds of the small brook brought a sigh.

It was too cold, too sad, too early to be

Lain to rest in our countryside.

The Renoir that inspired my poem

The Renoir that inspired my poem

Anyone can be inspired to share how they feel — and how the painting, sculpture, or other form of art made them feel. A poem of this style can be written in free-verse or rhymed, loose or structured. In any account, the act of sharing and speaking out about the art is just as important as looking at it on a wall or in a museum gallery.

Rusty LaGrange

Desert Nature Children’s Book, Mr. Floppysocks is Loved

Artist Jean Bohlender

Mr. Floppysocks is Loved
by Jean Bohlender

“An allegorical tale of true love and forgiveness for all ages.” http:www.jeanbohlender.com/mr-floppysocks-is-loved

The newest addition to High Desert Blogging’s Angie’s Book List is Mr. Floppysocks is Loved, written and illustrated by Artist Jean Bohlender. Desert life is often portrayed in her art which makes perfect sense because Jean and her husband live on a desert ranch.

Artists and writers are interesting folks, and their followers like to read about what inspires their work. A look into Jean Bohlender’s desert world shows how she loves nature and the Creator.

Artist Jean surprises her friends at times with a memento of friendship when they least expect it. Examples of her generosity may come in a fresh strawberry dessert with REAL whipped cream, a snake plant (also called mother-in-law’s tongue – and did you know this plant is known to improve air quality while you sleep?), or one of her paintings – and maybe even a glass of organic wheatgrass juice for the benefit of nutrition. That’s what it’s like having a friend who loves desert life, organic foods, and healthy living. When you purchase her art or book and make them a part of your home, you can feel her inspiration and love for the beauty of nature.

Snake Plant from Jean Bohlender

Snake Plant

Mr. Floppysocks is a book for children of all ages and makes a wonderful addition as a library selection in home schools, Christian schools, bookstores, and homes for anyone to enjoy. Order a copy for a friend or for yourself at TheBookPatch.com.

Incidentally, this new children’s book by Jean Bohlender is a fun book for grandmommies to give to their grandchildren or keep at their house for the grands. Better yet, read it to them when they come for a visit.

 

“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good.” (Gen. 1:11-12, KJV)

 

Children Craft Mother’s Day Cards from the Heart

Mothers Day Card group_05A Simple Mother’s Day Gift

Mother’s Day whirled by last weekend, but for some who don’t have the same day available to share with their Mothers, you can still send a Mother’s Day gift from the heart.

 

 

Craft a card with a flair just for her. Moms love getting something that is infused with love. Many web sites are devoted to crafts for paper flowers and 3-D creations. Just like these.
Mothers Day Card
crafted cards
My daughter hosts a craft class for children at our local museum each month. This session included a 3-D constructed woven flower as an embellishment for a “hand-made” card for me. All the children crafted their own cards for their Moms.

 

It’s a complicated and intricate-looking design but one that is easy for grade school kids to manage.

Rusty LaGrange

Creating a painting with words

Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean

The written word, in my humble opinion is a form of escape. How
many times have you read a book and battled pirates, traveled back in time, or flown on an alien spaceship? Writing is creating a painting, an artistic masterpiece with words. The writer is a guide to new experiences, invoking emotions, and often gaining knowledge.

Emotions

Emotions/Letting Go

For the writer, putting pen to paper is baring hidden parts of your soul for the world to see, judge, and possibly reject or embrace.

Terrifying? Yes, without a doubt.

Whenever someone asks why I want to write, I’ll say something along the lines of ‘Oh I’ve always wanted to’. The truth is, I’m an avid reader and I’m addicted to books. I love the idea of a happy ending or a strong female protagonist saving the day.

Piles of Books

As a writer, it’s my goal to take my readers away from reality for a little while. Let them escape their world and step into mine. To allow themselves to fall under my spell for a bit and at the end, perhaps have been impacted by my story.

The feeling is indescribable when someone reads your work and is moved by your words.

Yes, writing is terrifying but the thought of never being able to write another word is unfathomable. It’s become a part of who I am. And that is why writing has become my escape, my own artistic masterpiece.

An excerpt from my novel Innocent Labor:

Elena pulled up to the Childer’s home and glanced around as she got out of the car. Toys were tossed carelessly amidst the overgrown grass and weeds, memories of a playdate long since over. The pretty flowers someone planted near the porch
swayed in the breeze and the metal wind chimes decorated with fairies and frogs danced in the afternoon sunshine. Whimsical gnomes placed in the planter guarded the front porch, armed with shovels, wheelbarrows, and bright smiles.

Although there were a few signs of disarray, this appeared to be a home that was shared
by a family filled with love and laughter.

As she walked to the front door, the uninhibited war cries and laughter of the neighborhood children floated along the evening breeze. Peals of laughter rang out as harmless insults hurled back
and forth. She looked across the street and watched the children chase each other, intent only on themselves and their games.

Such innocence should be protected and treasured for as long as
possible, the world could be an ugly and cruel place.

For more information or to get to know Just a HD Mom you can follow me on Twitter @MGEdwardsWrites and/or join my blog www.mgedwardsblogs.wordpress.com.

The Diary of Anne Frank playing in Wrightwood, CA

The Diary of Anne Frank Play

Snowline Players Performs The Diary of Anne Frank in Wrightwood

 

The Diary of Anne Frank, performed by The Snowline Players in Wrightwood last night was amazing with a very powerful message.

There are still several more performances:

Sunday, April 21 at 7:30 PM

Friday April 26 at 8:00 PM

Saturday April 27th at 7:30 PM

Sunday Matinee on April 28th at 2:30 PM.

Playing at the Wrightwood Community Center off of Park Ave. and Hwy 2.

Only $6 for seniors and students and only $8 for adults. If you can arrange your schedule to go it will be well worth it!

The Diary of Anne Frank Play in Wrightwood – April 19 – April 28

If you love the theater and want to see an awesome performance, put this amazing Play on your calendar now!

 

The Snowline Players will present “The Diary of Anne Frank” adapted by Wendy Kesselman and written by Francis Goodrich and Albert Hackett. This is a drama based on the story of a young girl who lived during the Second World War and personally experienced the holocaust. Anne Frank and her parents and sister lived in Holland where her father had a factory. They were forced to live in the attic of the factory because they were Jewish and their lives were threatened by the Germans who occupied Holland during the war. Living with then was another family, the Van Daans and their son Peter and a dentist, Mr Dussel. They were also at risk because they were Jewish. Mr Kraler and Miep, a young woman, both worked in the factory and brought food and news to the attic residents for all the time they were living there.

This play has great character development as we see through Anne’s diary how each individual handled living in such a small environment, Anne wrote all their everyday happenings in her diary. She was a spunky girl of 13 in the beginning. She looked at their confinement as an adventure. The part of Anne is played by Emily Dieckman. Her sister Margot, a shy , retiring girl , is played by Anna Flynn. Ron Frank and Charlie Sorenson play Mr and Mrs Frank and the VanDaans are portrayed by Michelle Schneider and Ted Puffer. Peter, their son, is brought to life by Timothy Eaton. Miep is Kirstie Acosta, and Mr. Kraler is Dave Meyers.

Great cast, very moving, and with Ron Frank’s monologue at the end, there won’t be a dry eye in the house.

Hint to general public: If you haven’t seen Ron Frank, Michelle Schnieder, Ted Puffer, or Emily Diekman perform, here is your chance. We have renown talent locally grown. Tickets are very reasonably priced.

Anne Frank will be performed in the Wrightwood Community Building behind the Blue Ridge Inn on Park Drive in Wrightwood CA.

The building stage is being transformed into an attic by Tom Westhoff, Bruce Mortimer, and Larry Wilson. Performances are Fridays, April 19 and 26 at 8 pm. Sat. April 27 at 7:30pm Sunday April 21 at 7:30pm and Sunday April 28 at 2:30pm

Admission is $8.00 for adults, $6.00 for seniors and youth.

For information on buying tickets in advance call the director Lora Steinmann at 760-249-3171. Tickets can also be bought at the door on the day of the performance if they are available.

High Desert Hand-spun Yarn Fall Sale

One-of-a-Kind Hand-spun YarnFor all you who enjoy knitting, crochet, weaving, felting and creating beautiful things with beautiful yarn… Hurry while supplies last!
One-of-a-Kind Hand-spun Yarn by Marti is on a Super Fall Yarn Sale for a short while.
Available in La Tea Da Designs Etsy shop

You can go to the section called: SUPER YARN SALE and find amazing yarn at 50% off and more. Gift yourself or gift a friend at these super bargain prices.

While you are shopping, be sure to take a look at all the other fibers and things available to make amazing crafts with.

Want to learn how to spin with a drop spindle?
There are beautiful hand made beginner Drop Spindle Kits with detailed directions in each kit.

Makes a great Birthday gift and the Holidays are coming up soon!

High Desert Blogging News

Today is a busy blogging day.

First I met a blogging client for a one-hour blog coaching session. Then I blogged. And blogged. Then blogged some more. The neat thing about blogging in the 21st century is that you don’t have to write complete sentences. Well for some it’s a neat thing, maybe not for English majors. But for 21st century busy schedules and the texting era, short, incomplete sentences fit right in.

What kind of blogger are you? Anyone who wants to blog can blog. The more positive the blog, the more informative the blog, the more blog readers will want to read your blog. I’d like to introduce to you one of our bloggers at High Desert Blogging – just in case you haven’t met him yet.

Meet HDG. He’s the blogger of honor today. Today is his birthday. Not only that. He’s my other half, the guy I fell in love with way back when and married 33 years ago. In one of my other blogs I refer to him as Mr. Fun. I love to read his blog posts. For instance, he wrote one about a sifter he upcycled that makes you want to take the sifter off of the page and hang it on your wall.

Upcycled by HDG

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t that the coolest sifter art you ever saw? I think so, too. But it belongs to HDG and me. I happen to love it because it matches my rustic cottage kitchen. However, if you would love to purchase one to match your kitchen, we do take orders. Email HDG or Angie at hdblogging@gmail.com for sifter art colors to choose from.

Thank you for reading High Desert Blogging News!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, HDG!

High Desert Day Trip to The Bottle Tree Ranch on Old Route 66

The Bottle Tree Ranch

This was a spur of the moment Day Trip in the High Desert.  I love doing things at the spur of the moment.  On Monday while John and I were out doing some errands out in Apple Valley we decided to see if we could find the Bottle Tree Ranch.  First, we wanted to make it to Linda Marie’s Treasures in Oro Grande, CA before she closed at 5:00pm.  After we were finished visiting with her, we discovered that the Bottle Tree Ranch was just down the same National Trails Highway about 6 miles!  It is on historic Old Route 66 in the Mohave desert.

We heard that it is open to the public all of the time and if Elmer is there, he will come out and talk with you.  So off we went.  Elmer was there and what a treat to get to visit with him.  He gave us the grand tour and even invited us into his home.  What an amazing artist he is.  If you want to read more about our awesome High Desert Day trip to The Bottle Tree Ranch and see some amazing photos of things that Elmer Long has created visit Marti’s Muses and Marvels Blog

We highly recommend taking time to visit the Bottle Tree Ranch and meeting Elmer Long, the man that created this unusual for of art.

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