In a small Italian town
in some quiet station cafe
at a chequerboard tablecloth
beside a vase of summer flowers
in every hue of Welcome and Farewell,
a pretty young woman in a scarlet blouse
sits with head bowed in silent contemplation,
entirely cloistered from the mayhem outside:
a passing tram brimful of passengers; and
market traders driving hard bargains with
a blend of gesticulation and negotiation;
a frieze of noise; backdrop of clamour
that doesn't touch her. Undisturbed,
she holds this space between
arrival and departure
Janina Aza Karpinska
Editor's Note: This poem was written in response to Italian Station Cafe (1952), by Robert Sawyers. You can see it by clicking here. The related but different image shown by Hopper was not the original source of the ekphrasis.
Janina Aza Karpinska is an artist-poet with an M.A. In Creative Writing & Personal Development, Sussex University; Foundation in Fine Art, Chelsea College of Art & Design, and Foundation in Person-Centred Art Therapy, Crawley College. 1st Prize Winner of The Cannon Open Poetry Competition, 2007; published work in Poems in the Waiting Room; Museum Tales; and the Iron Book of Humorous Verse, and exhibited artwork in galleries, and magazines.
Ekphrastic Writing Challenge
Join us for biweekly ekphrastic writing challenges. See why so many writers are hooked on ekphrastic! We feature some of the most accomplished influential poets writing today, and we also welcome emerging or first time writers and those who simply want to experience art in a deeper way or try something creative.
Thank you to everyone who participated in our last writing challenge featuring the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat, which ends today at midnight. (Click here to see the Basquiat challenge.) Accepted responses for the Basquiat writing challenge will be published on March 1, 2019.
The prompt this time is Untitled (Two Women With Cat), by Omar Odeh. Deadline is March 8, 2019.
1. Use this visual art prompt as a springboard for your writing. It can be a poem or short prose (fiction or nonfiction.) You can research the artwork or artist and use your discoveries to fuel your writing, or you can let the image alone provoke your imagination.
2. Write as many poems and stories as you like. Send only your best works or final draft, not everything.
3. Have fun.
4. USE THIS EMAIL ONLY.
Send your work to firstname.lastname@example.org. Challenge submissions sent to the other inboxes will most likely be lost as those are read in chronological order of receipt, weeks or longer behind, and are not seen at all by guest editors. They will be discarded. Sorry.
5.Include OMAR ODEH WRITING CHALLENGE in the subject line in all caps please.
6. Include your name and a brief bio. If you do not include your bio, it will not be included with your work, if accepted. Even if you have already written for The Ekphrastic Review or submitted other works and your bio is "on file" you must include it in your challenge submission. Do not send it after acceptance or later; it will not be added to your poem. Guest editors may not be familiar with your bio or have access to archives. We are sorry about these technicalities, but have found that following up, requesting, adding, and changing later takes too much time and is very confusing.
7. Late submissions will be discarded. Sorry.
8. Deadline is midnight, March 8, 2019.
9. Please do not send revisions, corrections, or changes to your poetry or your biography after the fact. If it's not ready yet, hang on to it until it is.
10. Selected submissions will be published together, with the prompt, one week after the deadline.
11. Rinse and repeat with upcoming ekphrastic writing challenges!
We have been featuring occasional guest editors for the ekphrastic challenges.
We're hoping this will inspire us in unexpected ways, add new flavours and perspectives to the journal, foster community, and widen readership.
Upcoming guest editors include Shirley Glubka, Joan Leotta, and Jordan Trethewey.
We're excited about this and about having a whole year of challenges, now that we've found an ekphrastic prompt system that is working in terms of consistency and longevity. Many great poems are about to be written!
Sisley’s Snow at Louveciennes
We see white on white, a woman
in the bleak centre of the canvas,
this cold holding onto the rolling
snow lying along the fences,
tree limbs, hipped roofs,
stone walls of the lost village.
On a cottage door, a quiet blot
of blue. Wrapped in a tatter
of brown, the woman, deep
in the landscape’s insistent flat,
has the anonymity of a still life.
She is your mother unable to return,
staring into the blizzard’s dread
beauty, seeing only the sky,
a mute wash of blue hanging fragile,
spare as the frozen air. She stands
bordered by the indifference
of daylight, imagines a cardinal
cutting its wound across the snow,
a cat crawling under a cottage,
curling its tail around its sleep.
Jack Ridl's Practicing to Walk Like a Heron was named best collection of poetry for 2013 by Indiefab/ForeWord Reviews. His collection Broken Symmetry was selected by The Society of Midland Authors as the best collection of poetry for 2006. Billy Collins selected his Against Elegies for the Center for Book Arts (NYC) Chapbook Award. In April his new collection Saint Peter and the Goldfinch will be released. All three full collections are from Wayne State University Press.
Ten Steps to be Correctly Consumed by a City
for Eric Norris
dress like the person who
plays you in the movie
of your life; allow
marks on your skin (but worry
they’re usurping); body parts
should become agents
of commotion; act like you’re
stress like it’s an artform;
bury the greenery of your accent
in collage; learn to think
inside the barrage of noise;
be aware every moment
each day is your choice;
your life, a gesture you
can’t quite hold onto;
and nor should you.
This poem first appeared in Headstuff.
Mark Ward is the author of Circumference (Finishing Line Press, 2018). His work has been published in Poetry Ireland Review, Assaracus, Tincture and many more, including some anthologies. He is the founding editor ofImpossible Archetype, an international journal of LGBTQ+ poetry. He blogs erratically athttp://astintinyourspotlight.wordpress.com
On Warhol’s Atomic Bomb
A 2013 study from the University of South Florida has found that psilocybin, the psychoactive component of magic mushrooms, is able to stimulate neurogenesis, which is the growth and repair of brain cells in the hippocampus…The implications of this study are that magic mushrooms…may also be a powerful treatment for PTSD and similar conditions.
Wesley Thoricatha, “Psilocybin Shown to Heal and Repair Brain Cells, May Be Promising New PTSD Treatment”
First, the mushroom
the colour explodes
haunting, but not unpleasant
drawing what is
into what could've been
A permanent positive
A lasting image
A piece of you, for you
Then the flip
you drop the first tab,
drops like acid rain,
drops the pretense
drops the definition
drops the reason
for the pride
We drop lines, plead
“Please drop this, this
unwanted, unasked for, these
off planes dropped
on plains, these plainclothes
dropped in plain day
dropped, just stop
it, drop it, please!”
this nightmare, trips,
into the background dark
and I try to drop off
Cullen Whisenhunt is a graduate student with Oklahoma City University’s Red Earth Creative Writing MFA program and an instructor of Developmental English at Murray State College in Tishomingo, Oklahoma. His work has been published in Red Earth Review, Dragon Poet Review, Manzano Mountain Review, Voices, Red River Review.
Wabi Sabi: Deep awareness of life experienced through beautiful imperfection.
“There is a comic verse which tells of one ... who is so cold on a winter night that she eats two bowls of noodles at 16 mon each, thus prodigally spending the 24 mon, her standard price which she got from her last client.” Cecilia Whitford, Japanese Prints
Out of a perpetual twilight
economy Utamaro’s* lovely Tsuji-gimi,
could be Lilith, Eve, or Pandora
but her name means “street corner whore,”
the lowest kind of illegal prostitute
who carries a straw mat over her arm
for entertaining clients al fresco
wherever she can find a nook,
a quilt of shadow, to wrap
its flimsy anonymity around her.
No hint of certain real-world desperation;
she is pillowbook playmate—sensual,
slightly disheveled, headscarf edge
held between perfect pink lips
as she reaches in her belt for her purse.
An also ran in the holy trinity
of virgin, mother and crone, she is
the stuff of demeaning jokes and wet dreams:
Annie Fannie, Mattress-back, Backseat Bimbo,
the imperfect wabi-sabi woman, making
the best of the floating world’s smallest,
most broken boat, hoping for a little ease
while tossed on poverty’s hopeless sea;
but doing so, she transcends, becoming
the every woman all women carry inside.
Sandra J. Lindow
* Utamaro Kitagawa 1750-1806
This poem was first published in Hot Metal Press.
Sandra J. Lindow lives on a hilltop in Menomonie, Wisconsin, where she teaches, writes, edits, and competes with wildlife for rights to her vegetables and perennials. She has six books of poetry.
The Marriage Feast at Cana
"You do not seem to realize that beauty is a liability rather than an asset."
Nary a flask of new wine
from the hand of the Savior
could bring a flush of happiness
to her cheek. She would be like
the water, transformed in miraculous
fashion to fruit before it is plucked.
Like the plates of the revelers, she is
empty, picked clean.
Were that a woman like a man
instead of a fatted calf displayed
before the market, pinched and
prodded for plumpness, good bones
and pink flesh her undoing.
Janette Schafer is a freelance writer and photographer living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is a 2017 awardee of the Maenad Fellowship in writing through Chatham University and a 2015 awardee of the Arts MODE Fellowship in experimental theater through New Sun Rising LLC. Recent and upcoming publications include: (b)oink Magazine; Nasty Women & Bad Hombres Anthology; Chatham University broadsides; PublicSource; Calamus Journal.
I guide the demons
inside of me
with words, not strings,
and an iron hand
to curb their avarice,
calm their cruelty
and subdue their lust;
I, their master,
and they the marionettes.
We are the demons
that live inside of him
moving his lips
our unspeakable words
and guiding his restless
mind and limbs
watch the master
with no will of his own
bow and cower
to our law.
Neil Ellman, a poet from New Jersey, has published more than 1,200 ekphrastic poems, in venues throughout the world. He has been nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize and twice for Best of the Net.
bruegel the elder’s the woman taken in adultery
this bare foot Jesus writes
(in dutch no less)
His sentence for her sin that is really theirs
as she stands among the judges, jury, executioners . . .
please note the lack of two formal witnesses
the Law proscribed
as well as her male counterpart who conveniently disappeared
what will become of her
will she speak again
after her enforced silence
and will some future husband lay with her
to rob her of her sorrow and her public shame
Sister Lou Ella
Sister Lou Ella is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and new verse news as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannnan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015 (Press 53.)
Sant'Ivo alla Sapienza
These are not days of grace. In the morning
we wake to the half-heard sound of shouting
out in the street. On the pale walls the sunlight
spills careless, caresses from the paint
and blistered window-frames outrageous beauty.
Fixing the low gas stove with a broken lighter
you start to tell me how the girls in EUR charge
twenty-five euros for a hand-job. I
do not believe that you know this, but I can’t
unpick the lies within the lies, and so
we smoke in silence and drink coffee from
last night’s vodka glasses.
When the day is right,
we go to Sant'Ivo, which, of course, is closed
except on Sunday mornings, when we sleep late.
Outside in the Roman street prevaricating
between the traffic and god, we hesitate.
The squared curves of the courtyard beckon and repulse:
o wisdom, wisdom – is this still your world?
A Cambridge native, Sophy lives in Rome, where she teaches archaeology by day, writes by night, and stalks the Romantic poets whenever she can.
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