Special Showcase- Vibrant Voices and Public Places: an Ekphrastic Collection by Trinity Western University Students
Vibrant Voices and Public Places: an Ekphrastic Collection by Trinity Western University Students
compiled by Prof. Melinda Dewsbury
Students from Trinity Western University’s summer version of “Literature and Culture” studied poetry and short fiction by writers including Chinua Achebe, Lu Xun, Saut Situmorang, Roque Dalton, Shin Kyong Nim, Daya Pawar, Amanda Gorman, Pablo Neruda, Li Qingzhao, Kohtaro Takamura, Sumitra Nandan Pant, Azita Ghahreman, L.M. Montgomery, Matsuo Basho, Mina Said Alayyan, Gabriela Mistral, Saadi Youssef, Nissim Ezekial, Susan Kiguli, Carrie Young, Emmanuel Ejen, Alootook Ipelli as well as biblical works of poetry and ancient origin stories. Through this exploration, students learned about worldview and identity as well as literary voice and technique. As their final project for the course, students experienced ekphrastic practice first through a workshop led by Ekphrastic Review editor Lorette C. Luzajic and then applied to their own creative process. Their assignment asked them to photograph public or street art in their community and write a response to this art. This is a celebratory collection of their work.
Prof. Melinda Dewsbury
Editor's note: It was a privilege to meet with Melinda's class online and share the joys of ekphrastic writing with students from Vancouver to China. We talked about art and different ways to look at it, and how to use the art around us to inspire reflection and poetry. Enjoy these heartfelt student poems, the first time writing poetry for many of them!
Methed Up Teeth Man
I am a methed up teeth man in a methed up town
My spit spilled through teeth to wet Burrard
My sweat flew to impress Stanley I am thirsty
My sputum reclaimed Granville
My brass-coloured breath leaks to the air
I was told so much
I was on the right path
I soaked my son in booze He was not a good ferment
I am a methed up teeth man in a methed up town.
He is a methed up teeth man Brass meets buff
My son lives in Shangri-La
He has been trapped there for years He can never touch blacktop
He is an even teeth man His talk in math
Spits on the plastic bar
Do you have some water? I am thirsty
I am thirsty
My thirst is squeezing my breath And my mouth
And my throat
Can you have my back, old man?
"My name is Dongwoo Lee, and I come from Korea. I study biotechnology at Trinity Western University. This is a quote from the film Hannah Arendt (2012): “The manifestation of the wind of thought is not knowledge, but the ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful from ugly”. This deeply affected my philosophy of life and I hope that thinking gives people the strength to live a truthful life. This poem will be my first literature that my thoughts will be a weapon, for all the alienated people from industrialization.
Her Mind is a Map
Her mind is a map,
A story of her past, present and future.
Ancestors, travelling across the world for a chance at a new life
Starting again in a land synonymous with fresh beginnings
A childhood filled with laughter and make believe
Lessons of “when you are chasing elephants, don’t follow rabbit tracks”
And “you are a part of all you have met”
Early morning car rides to church
And late afternoon ones to Kumon
The three musketeers and their dog,
The unstoppable trio who will always be best friends
Studying hard for her future
Days spent plotting and planning,
Praying for her dreams to come true
Quiet mornings filled with music and her Savior
Afternoons filled with books and memorization
Walks with her mom looking at trees dancing in the wind
The river raising its arm in hello
The sun smiling down at them as if to say
“you have got this!”
And finally, her future
Oh, the places she will go!
The world is an open book just waiting for her read
The boogie men under her bed are no longer causes of fear
But doll houses are still sources of joy
She is no longer a girl,
But not yet a woman
Her mind is a map,
A story that is ready to be explored
Mackenzie Coleman is a graduating accounting student at Trinity Western University. She grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba and now resides in Calgary, Alberta. Her childhood was influenced by her German and Mennonite upbringing. She dedicates this poem to her mother who always encouraged her with various quotes including, “When you are chasing elephants, don’t follow rabbit tracks.”
The spring, he is watching over
Three waves of water hold up the twinkling pearl
One glance, years passed
Life is surging, tumbling, and blowing in it
People praise the vitality inside
They call it, it is spring, humble and powerful
But the spring, still watching over
Watching another life pass away.
The spring is modest, not complacent even as a symbol of city
Just like causality, creatures will always go where the spring is
Life continuously spreads and grows like newborn flowers
Natural deeds and human deeds
When he comes
Spring, it flows slowly
People are no longer speechless by starving
Willows flutter in the wind, full of greenery
When he leaves
Spring, it still trickles
Everything is growing quietly behind
When everyone looks behind
The vitality of life blooms around
Generations keep changing
But the light blue of spring never fades
Reflected by the bright pearl eyes
It is still watching over
The miracle and hope that life brings
"My name is Tianze Wang, and I am from China. I always think more than write. I tried to commemorate the academician Longping Yuan in the form of poetry. It may be a little vague, but I hope someone can know the question I asked in this poem."
Thoughts of a Walker
In the summer of 2020, I found myself sitting in my home trying to figure out what to do. With COVID-19 raging, I could not go out with friends, making my daily routine a never-ending cycle of work, home, work, home. I used to drive to the local grocery store where I worked, but my mother suggested that I should walk instead, claiming that it was good exercise. While I had no desire to do a 45-minute walk when I could drive it in five minutes, my mother’s idea was not a mere suggestion, but a motherly decree using the language of a suggestion to make me more receptive to the notion. I followed her instructions without complaint. In the beginning, I would listen to audiobooks and podcasts as I walked, while keeping a close eye on the cars, as I had to walk on the shoulder of a country road. The more I walked, the less attention I paid to the road and the more I took in the scenery. I started to notice things like the crisp smell of saltwater mixed with seaweed, and massive flocks of birds, too many to count, resting in the farm fields. I also began to notice and enjoy the long stretches of silence, punctuated by the occasional sound of a car, birds chirping, or the ferry horn bellowing, marking departure and arrival. I was one of the few people that walked this stretch of road, but once I got to the golf course that marked the edge of town, I would start to run into people. As I walked this populated stretch of road I took note of my fellow pedestrians: families with kids, people going to work, groups of kids looking for fun, and retirees with their golf clubs buzzing along in their carts, all of them nicely dressed.
Some days, instead of sticking to the road, which was quicker, I would walk the dike instead, which ran alongside the beach, for a change of pace. As I walked the dike, I noticed the people that I passed were different than those on the roads and sidewalks. There were more bikers, dog walkers, and elderly people out for exercise. I also noticed those on the dike were more likely to nod or say hi to me as I walked. However, my favorite part of the dike was the wooden bird watching tower. From that tower, one got a unique view of the lower mainland. If you stand at the top and look east across the bay, you can see Crescent Beach and White Rock. If you look north, you can see the tall towers of New Westminster set to the imposing backdrop of the Rocky Mountains. Then, if you turn to the west, you can see the trees, swamps, and scrub brush that comprise Boundary Bay Park. Finally, when you look south, you can see the park filled with children and families and, just beyond that, Boundary Bay and Point Roberts. Towering above it all are the hills of Tsawwassen, filled with little specks of light showing the houses. Standing in that tower I felt at peace, watching the world go by and forgetting about its problems. As the summer of COVID dragged on, and I continued to walk to and from work, I started to understand a fundamental truth: you cannot know a place without walking through it regularly. When you walk through a place, you begin understanding its identity and how it came to possess it.
At the end of the summer of COVID, my family moved to Ladner, which was only 15 minutes north of Tsawwassen. So, of course, the first thing I did was to start walking Ladner so I could get a feel for the town. While I began walking Ladner, I noticed immediately the smell of sea salt was nearly invisible in comparison to my previous home, as the prevailing scents were that of pine and farm fields. There was also the occasional mouth-watering smell of a cookout and the stink of weed. As I continued to walk, I observed several of the neighbourhood’s different characteristics, like how the clock tower at Trenant Park Square stands guard over Ladner or how, when I walked the main street, it felt like walking on the movie set for small-town USA. I also noticed the noises were substantially different from Tsawwassen. I could hear families playing and working in their yards. The sound of cars was no longer sporadic, but instead a constant hum. I also noticed the pedestrians were different, insofar as our interactions were limited to an exchange of nods. My fellow pedestrians were also incredibly diverse, as I observed a vast array of different ethnicities, genders, and cultures from many different walks of life, but all with a practical style of dress. As I walked through Ladner, which was only 15 minutes away from my old home, I was astonished at how different the two town’s identities are. Despite the numerous distinctions between them, both towns are similar in that they are proud of their unique identities. As I started to wear the soles of my shoes, and the sun began to set, the warm summer air ran through my hair as I asked myself to which of these identities I belong?
I grew up in the US and Canada. I moved many times in both countries. This has given me a fascination with a sense of place and identity. I explore these ideas in my short story and I hope it helps other people to ask the question of what sense of place and identity means to them.
"I grew up in the US and Canada. I moved many times in both countries. This has given me a fascination with a sense of place and identity. I explore these ideas in my short story and I hope it helps other people to ask the question of what sense of place and identity means to them."
Our lives do matter
They have, they will, forever
It's not a debate
Why is a murder a debate?
Only when it’s my life on the line.
The colour of my skin determines
Whether I leave certain places fine
I’m proud of my blackness,
The beauty, the history, the grace
But now I’m told to always be careful
Cause one wrong move and I could see heaven's gates
It seems like the world doesn’t care,
About the lives of our families and children
It seems like every step forward we take
The step backs are like a million.
It’s a never-ending cycle,
We need to see change and reform.
We need to see it last forever,
And not short term.
My name is Mary Haile. I was born in Ethiopia, but due to political circumstances, my family and I were compelled to go to Egypt when I was two years old. I then arrived in Canada as a refugee when I was eleven years old. I'm a Biology major at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia. Both of my poems were inspired by a Black Lives Matter protest that took place in my hometown called Smithers. This protest was to help both the Indigenous and Black communities living in my hometown.
The Eternal Fire
Burn, fire, burn!
Let the truth be unturned
You were evil with no soul
You came here and you stole
Our freedom, our ground
You said it was enlightenment
You told us, Buddhists should be converted
You took away rights
Thanks to a country of liberty
Here lie the dead
He was nothing but a monk
A human with his good deed
He sat still when the fire was lit
His heart turned into a pearl-like relic
Sacrifice left his name deathless.
My name is Tu Huynh. I am 19 years old. I am originally from Vietnam. I moved to British Columbia, Canada over 3 years ago as a student. I am a Biotechnology student at Trinity Western University in BC, Canada.
Defeat the Flood
The sky is howling
The flood is roaring
It burst from the body
Like a beast
Washed out the embankment
The water in its body is no longer clear
Full of turbidity
Full river sediment,
Residual branches and broken leaves
The human inside of it was struggling
It will take away so many young lives
Some people are afraid of it and choose to give up
400,000 soldiers and civilians make concerted effort
Divide it into several parts
Into the sea
People use flesh and blood
Stop the flood attack
Just like Yu
Successfully protected our hometown
At this time
A touch of green quietly emerged from the embankment
My name is Yuqian Wang and I am from China. I am a Business student at Trinity Western University. I wrote this poem to commemorate the victory of the war against the flood.
这是一场没有硝烟的战争 This is a war without gunpowder
天使穿着白色的战衣 Angels are dressed in white
在钟老的带领下 under the lead of Mr. Zhong
此去明知荆楚险 They know it is dangerous to go there
一肩瘦弱裹征途 Their thin shoulders still choose to take the responsible
在红十字的建筑里冲锋陷阵 Fighting in the Red Cross building
使用”知识之矛”和”经验之盾” using the “knowledge spear” and “experience shield”
去打败戴着皇冠的恶魔 To beat evils with crown
这是一场没有硝烟的战争 This is a war without gunpowder
后线的士兵把握着最后的防线 The “soldiers” in the back line hold the last line of defense
他们关紧房门 They shut the doors tightly
白色的武器戴在脸上 Wearing the white weapon on their face
战胜焦虑与烦躁 Overcome the evils who call anxiety and irritability
与身边的人相互鼓励 Encourage the people around
共渡时艰 Tide over the difficulties together
总有一天 In the coming day
春暖花开之时 When flowers bloom in spring
我要把这一年的兵荒马乱 I want to boil this year’s chaos
熬成一壶青梅甜酒 into a pot of plum wine
在晚宴的觥筹交错里 In the toast of the dinner night
与你推杯换盏 talk and laugh with you
等长夜将白 Till the long night ends
Zhiying Liu lives in Guangzhou, China and studies Business at TWU. Zhiying loves romantic poems and thinks past is passed, people should enjoy life now.
We don’t even save ink
To bring shrimps to life.
Shrimps were soldiers and crabs were generals
Competing for ruling under water
While shrimps are king to the river.
No sooner raining in Tomb-Sweeping Festival
Streams are filled with shrimp.
While there are countless creatures in the world
The only spirit in the water
And tasty food on the stove.
How tiny the prawns are
With pincers longer than the body.
The strength of the group is immense
Roll up the big wave
Become a dragon of the East Sea.
Clad in a red cape
Riding across the watery zephyrs
Talking to the tsunami.
Streams, rivers, and ponds as temporary homes
Aquatic heroes the shrimps.
Tianyu Zhu is a student at Trinity Western University. He is proud to share his hometown with artist Qi Baishi, who has influenced him to observe the natural world more closely.
The Theatre Closed
Located on the busiest street in this small city,
Between a bakery and a convenience store,
Behind an unimpressive door,
There was another world.
Dates, nuts and tea were placed on the antique tables.
Performers had put on their costumes with heavy makeup.
The stage was all settled for the moment.
After seconds of brief darkness,
With the brilliant light and soft Huangmei tune,
the opera started.
The elders put down the teacup,
The adults forgot the bothering,
Only the children were still running around and imitating the performers once in a while.
The familiar opera tune,
The relaxing tea aroma,
The soft atmosphere,
All the images of the scene became misty,
And time has clouded my memory.
Located on the same street,
Still between a bakery and a convenience store,
A new Hot-pot restaurant opened.
With flowers and firecrackers,
The narrow facade became lively.
I never went to it again.
The performers took off the delicate costumes,
Under the heavy makeup,
The traces of time had nowhere to hide.
Dongyong is still waiting for his beloved Seven,
Nv Fu Ma is still worrying about how to face the princess.
After a short period of darkness,
Here comes the longer.
Will the brilliance come back,
The theatre closed,
When the last audience left.
I am Zoe Zou from a small city in China called Anqing. It’s the cradle of the declining culture “Huangmei Opera.” After reading my poetry, I hope you can occasionally think of this small city, this “Huangmei Opera” and the specific cultural heritage from your hometown.
Flowers, a Beautiful Creation
Flowers, flowers everywhere
In the garden, in the hair
In the vase, in the store
On the table, on the door
What a lovely time of year
Flowers blooming bringing cheer.
Flowers have been to temple prays.
Flowers have been in people's graves.
Either a lover or a person great
Flowers are offered in different states.
Standing high and enduring pain
Smiling even in sun wind or rain.
Life has never been easy.
There have been days without beauty.
Staying happy is a choice.
Little things make life rejoice.
Keep these things awake.
So, it can make life great.
Staying strong with a bright smile
Keeps away the stress pile.
Like flowers feed bees,
Humans should learn from natural beauty.
Feeding nature is human duty.
Humans seem long forgotten.
Making it worse to its bottom
With some love, with some care
Let us make this creation heavily fair.
I am Aakriti Khurana. I have been raised in a diverse Indian culture. I am a business student at Trinity Western University, Langley, BC. I came to Canada three years ago for studies. Reading has always been one of my hobbies, but writing has never been practiced by me. This is the first time I have tried to put something in words and hope to continue this forever.
Sometimes, Love, it's Better to Say Goodbye
I cut my hair short,
What's cut is,
Your control and abuse of me in the past.
You always judge on me,
Dressing style, makeup style, and even hairstyle.
Everything must be adapted to your preferences.
You said you judge me because you love me
But your Love is a birdcage
I'm just a bird longing for freedom
I am sorry,
I just want to tear up everything you did to me in the past,
I just want to get rid of the life under your control.
Because it is not the Qing dynasty in a feudal society,
You are not even the emperor,
I am not the empress of you and anyone else.
You know what?
I am a woman,
I am my own queen.
I am a woman,
I want to take control of my own life.
I am a woman,
I would always be myself.
I am a woman,
I can do everything you do.
I am a woman,
I make money and spend it myself.
I am a woman,
I love to go shopping in short skirts, sleeveless tops, and boots.
I am a woman,
I'm not a vase you put inside the house.
I am a woman
I am a red rose that never fades.
I am a woman,
I would be indomitable and keep moving forward.
Can you hear me clearly?
Remember my smiling face full of spring breeze!!
Forget to tell you,
I don't wanna see you anymore!!!
My name is Theodora Liu, and I'm from the southern part of China. I am passionate about equal rights for men and women, and I hope to contribute to the movement for equal rights for women.
Garden of Dolphins
In the middle of the road these dolphins I see
So aspiring and beautiful; make my heart flee
As if telling the world to live free and dance
And not to miss opportunity or chance
To be in the moment and let our self breathe
To leave despair and negativity beneath
To live to the fullest and not sigh
To work so hard and aim high
These dolphins I see
Are asking me to focus on my dreams
No matter how far it is and how hard it seems
And to share my happiness with others on the way
Because in unity there’s always victory, they say
These dolphins I see are showing me light
And telling me to everything there’s a bright side
So never give up and even if you fail
You should start it all over again
So that it could never be in vain!
My name is Vineet Bhandari, and I’m from India. I am pursuing a Bachelor of Business Administration at Trinity Western University. I like mountains and pretty clouds. I enjoy going on trekking and playing soccer.
你 我 他
霜 洋溢笑容的家庭 孤独的考
拉 风在跟你拥抱 光在跟她握
You Me He
Flourishing and jollification in the streets
Ice and frost under the sun
Every family full of smiles
The wind is hugging you
The light is shaking her hand
The rain watches in the distance
Watching at the constant inheritance
Hold the flowing beam of light
To have and not to have everything
Jingyi (Jenny) Zhang
My name is Jingyi Zhang. I am an international student from China. I'm studying art and design at Trinity Western University. Although I major in art, I am not very good at poetry or literature, and I even think it isn't easy. That is my first attempt at poetry, which is also an exciting challenge.
When I rubbed shoulders with her for the 0. 01 second,
It was like I bathed in the breeze of spring and the warm sunshine of winter,
All the flowers were in full bloom at that moment.
I imagined my life after being with her:
She is reading a book in front of the window with the sunset.
I am sitting beside her,
Playing beautiful music with my fingers.
Just like this with the sunset,
I appreciate the traces of time.
When I rubbed shoulders with him for the 0. 01 second,
It was like the first ice cream on a summer day,
All the goodness bloomed in a moment when the ice cream entered my mouth.
I imagined my life after being with him:
He is wiping the chord on the soft sofa,
I am sitting beside him,
Talking about the interesting things that happened today,
Just like this with warm light,
I appreciate the traces of time.
When I rubbed shoulders with her for the 0. 1 second,
Sunlight and water were constantly watering the flowers,
Flowers became lush，
I remember her when we were together,
She takes me to explore this world bravely,
And always shows a kind smile to this world.
In the process of exploring the world,
She will protect the violin bag which is held in my hand,
And she will firmly encourage me to hold the violin bag in my hand.
We are in the process of exploring the world,
And appreciate the traces of time.
When I rubbed shoulders with him for the 0. 1 second,
The contrast between the hot summer and the cool ice cream is getting stronger,
The goodness of ice cream is constantly being enlarged.
I remember him when we were together,
He takes me to explore the different world,
And always smiles hopefully to this world.
In the process of exploring this new world,
He is always standing beside me,
And he makes me forget the backpack on my shoulder for a while.
We are in the process of exploring the new world,
And appreciate the traces of time.
They brush past after one second,
The sun is hot and shining,
The hot summer wilted the flowers and melted the ice cream.
He holds the violin bag past her,
She takes the backpack and walks by him.
At that moment,
He never noticed the backpack on her shoulder.
Ziqi Liu is an international student from China. Many couples are facing the pressure between ideal and reality. In a relationship, when one person is under the pressure of life from relatives, friends and society, but another one is immersed in the world of chasing dreams. When the two people's goals in life are no longer the same, most lovers choose to break up this relationship. The purpose of my poem is evaluative.
Let Go of Love
The flower in the boy's heart withered.
The boy's heart died.
Who cannot understand the boy’s pain?
He took his bags to search for his painful memories.
He saw the sea of bitterness right in front of him.
He is not willing to accept the reality.
"The flower shop is closed. Do the flowers still open?"
The flower in the boy's heart is no longer blooming.
He saw a pink love rack.
It was wrapped around a lot of people's heart locks
The boy came forward to look.
He saw the painful voice of a girl who was in love with some other.
The boy felt the telepathy was so strong.
He took up his pen and engraved encouragement on the lock.
To help strangers and encourage them to face the future.
He felt better and came out of the haze.
Go to where the dawn rises and face the sea.
Denghao Peter Wang
I am Peter Wang, and in the poem I wrote I want to tell people “Don't cling to the past. We have to look to the future. Even if you are lovelorn, don't move forward with sadness. Maybe sharing to help a same injured person come out is what we should do.”
The Pacific Melting Pot
The beautiful west coast -- tormentor of my dreams,
It is difficult to say this as one looks at the sun agleam.
The pinnacle of westward expansion,
What followed was the gold rush and oversized mansions,
What made me be fortunate enough to find this area in my bloodstream?
Once a land of nature and trees,
Only taking what you need.
Abandoned dreams of indigenous utopianism,
Replaced with European colonialism.
Livelihoods taken over with a smug,
Two hundred and fifteen lives swept under a tattered orange rug.
The dawn of one nation creates the fall of another,
But this does not mean that we cannot see one another as brothers.
As we move into the unknown,
I am sure more issues will be prone.
But we have come so far along as one,
Where we can treat others as if they were our sons.
A true melting pot which the rest of the world can wonder,
Is on the horizon with more or less a blunder.
As the waves crash down on the beautiful Pacific Ocean,
One can’t help but be filled with emotion.
As the land once filled with hostility,
Has the reality of being filled with peace and tranquility?
My name is Ethan New, and I am from Port Moody, British Columbia but I am currently living in Gibsons. In my poem, I wanted to talk about an issue that was not commonly talked about until the atrocities which we saw in Kamloops earlier this year. As a west-coast native, I wanted to offer my input on how I see this region in the past, the present, and as well as the future. I am not trying to change anybody’s mind about any particular issue, but rather to shed light on an issue that cannot be talked about enough.
There is a country where many people live. Every person of the country lives an extremely mediocre life. In the morning, children go to kindergarten, teenagers go to school, and adults go to their workplace. Then they eat dinner and spend time together at night. Living without being so special, there is one unique structure in this country. The pillar-like and bridge-like structure faces an endless sky. On the structure people walk all the time. One day, a boy asked his father. “Daddy, where is that bridge headed?” Then father smiled and said, “It’s headed to heaven”. The boy asked again. "Do you have to go with me?" Dad replied, "Of course, heaven is a good place. There are only warm spring and cool summer there. There are no bad people who commit crimes. You can meet someone you love, spend the rest of your life with them." However, the boy wondered and thought strange because there was no end to that structure and no one came back. Beyond the question of whether I should go, the boy began to think about the fundamental problem of whether we could use that structure. Not only the boy, but in fact everyone uses the structure at a certain time, and no one knows who made it or why. Unlike his father, who looked at the structure with anthropocentrism, he looked at the structure with naturalism. But it's just a boy's idea, and today countless people walk through the structure toward the sky.
Seoneung James Kim
My name is James. I’m from South Korea. I’m studying Media and Communications at Trinity Western University to become a wiser and better communicator. I'm trying to be a spiritual person, so I always pray and read the Bible and live in the word of God.
Yue Lao and Cupid have the same job
Little red string in hand, connecting you and her
His smile is like the brightest star in the night sky
It is illuminating my world
His smile is like the warm sun in winter
It is warming my world
He gently embraced me, making me crazy fascinated
the air around him becomes fascinating
The atmosphere begins to heat up
It is dangerous and fascinating
His voice seems to have been kissed by an angel
Can you connect the two of us with a red string?
I wish he could look back at me
I was always there for him
Can you hear my heart’s desire?
I hope you will…
Shaoyu Naomi Zhang
My name is Naomi. I am an international student from China now studying at Trinity Western University. Chinese and Western poets express themselves in different ways. For example, to express love, Chinese poets tend to be implicit and readers needed to read between the lines to understand the poet's deep meaning. On the other hand, western poets express their feelings directly and boldly. This time, I also used the direct boldness of western poets' characteristics to express my feelings.
In 2010, December 15, a person who was wearing a white blouse and holding a bouquet of sunflowers was approaching a grave. His name is Nguyen. He was visiting the grave of a childhood friend. Then, he was suddenly nostalgic about this friend who was a little girl who yearned for a simple and healthy life…
When he was 12, Nguyen suffered an injury and broke his arm while playing with his classmates. This accident caused him to have surgery and stay in the hospital for several weeks for observation and physical therapy. Every morning after physical therapy, he usually went for a walk alone in the hospital garden. Each time, he noticed a long-hair little girl sitting on a bench and facing the sun. Because of curiosity, he once came to talk with this strange friend. She was a quiet girl. However, she seemed to enjoy chatting with him because she had been in the hospital for a while but still had not had any friends there. She asked him how long he had had to stay in this hospital. Nguyen replied: "Just a few weeks after my body fully recovers, I will go home.” Hearing that, the girl was moved to say: “I wish I knew the day I could go back home like you. My life could be stuck here forever.” This girl had blood cancer, so her family wanted her to stay for treatment for a long time. Although her mom came to take care of her every day, she still felt lonely and sad because she could not go to school like normal children. Nguyen did not have any friends here either, so he decided to come and play with her. Nguyen remembers her saying that she loved the sun. Her room in the hospital had a very large window. Every morning, the sun would come through the window, shine on her bed and wake her up. She said, “Every morning if the sun can wake me up, that means… I'm still alive”. For that reason, every day she gazed at the sun and enjoyed its light because she was afraid that one day, she will never have a chance to see the sun. December 25th is the day that he was discharged from the hospital. He drew a picture of a sunflower for her. On the picture was written a few lines: “My mom said only sunflowers always face the sun. Just like you, so always be optimistic towards good things. I believe you will overcome and recover from the disease. I will never forget you”. Thus, on this day every year, Nguyen sent a sunflower to the hospital for the girl. Nevertheless, three years later, he suddenly received a letter that said she had passed away. There was a photo of her in the envelope. In the picture, she had no hair, but she was smiling and holding a sunflower in her hand. Behind the picture is her message: “Thank you for your sunflowers and encouragement. I have been strong, brave and optimistic to fight the disease.”
More than ten years have passed, and Nguyen now is a doctor. On this day, he still visits her grave and brings a bouquet of sunflowers. He still vividly remembers the image of a little girl facing the sun like a sunflower. Standing for a while, he saw the sun gradually shone on her grave just like when she had been lying on a hospital bed. He put the bouquet down, smiled at her grave, and said “My little friend! We have faced towards the sun together.”
Anh Que Chung
I am Anh Que Chung from Vietnam. As an undergraduate student majoring in elementary education at Trinity Western University, I appreciate aspects related to the interests of children and aspire to help those who are unfortunate in their life. The story is inspired and based on a fundraising event each year for Vietnamese children with cancer through a symbol of sunflowers. In Vietnam, about 250,000 children were diagnosed with cancer in 2018. Every year, there are more than 160,000 children with cancer and 90,000 children die from cancer. This wall art was painted near the Primary Children's Hospital, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
I Still Love You
I still love you,
Like wind travels thousands of miles,
Take mine away all smiles.
I still love you,
Like rain never says goodbye,
Lasting for the whole July.
I still love you,
Like a meteor falling to the ground,
So life and death are gone beyond.
I still love you,
Like distance between sun and moon,
Pointer of twelve, midnight and noon.
I still love you,
I regret not telling you, my dear,
I love you, and for ten thousand-year.
Jiaji Justin Ma
Hello, everyone, I am Justin Ma. I come from China. This poem is called "I Still Love You", inspired by street graffiti on Yulin Road, Chengdu. The person in the graffiti is the protagonist of the classic Chinese comedy movie "A Chinese Odyssey Part Two-Cinderella", Monkey King. The text in the graffiti means "I regret not saying to my beloved one, I love you." This graffiti and text remind me of a love experience two years ago. At that time, I was studying in Toronto, and I met a girl in China by chance on the Internet. We had a very pleasant chat and felt that we liked each other. But until the end, we didn't confirm the relationship, and I didn't tell her that I like her.
Ask for a latte and sit quietly;
Looking at the Huangpu River, in a daze.
Unbelievable, one farewell, the past four years,
I am not far away, looking at you through time and space.
I'm back, come and see the clouds in my hometown;
I'm back, come to blow the wind of my hometown;
I'm back, come to listen to the rain in my hometown.
Shanghai, how are you? I don't come here unharmed.
Let me not let go every time I enter your arms,
Because I have been wandering alone for too long too long.
I miss all kinds of snacks in Shanghai,
Miss flatbread, fried dough sticks, rice cakes,
Miss Xiaolong, Pan-fried, Big Wonton.
I miss the local accent of Shanghai and the rail transit of Shanghai.
I miss the neon lights of Shanghai at night and the busy traffic on the elevated bridge.
Miss the unique taste of the city in the air. Shanghai, you are charming and beautiful, Shanghai, your prosperous atmosphere,
Shanghai, you are the brightest star in the night sky.
Shanghai, you are the night pearl of the East! Brilliant!
It's just that one turn around, and I don't know when to meet again!
Jie Jane Wang
I am Jie Wang, come from Shanghai, China. Jane is my English name. I have been an English teacher in Shanghai, China since I graduated from University. In 2014, I moved to Canada, and now I work with International Students in high school as an Education Assistant. On weekends, I teach Chinese online. I love teaching and love being with students, and I am glad to help and support the students from all over the world.
Puzzle of Love
Love, the squeaky-clean feeling,
Breaks all boundaries and chains of bondage,
You can never run away from love,
Love lobs you to endless skies,
Ooh, love, what is your limit?
A young child stands up and raises their feet,
All to fill the puzzle of love,
His little fingers are stuck with the puzzle of love,
The flip of love shakes his tiny feet,
And up they uplift it to mighty glory,
Woosh is this fleeting feeling of love,
Ooh, love what is your limit?
It heals crushed souls,
Calms angry hearts,
Empowers happy beings,
Love is the roaring force of nature,
And the missing piece in every face,
Ooh love what is your limit?
The love tender feeling,
Leaves a soldier reeling,
The stronger the love,
The weaker your guard,
Everywhere I turn I see red roses screaming love,
With a red shield who can defeat me,
Love revitalizes me,
And makes my red blood race in a rush,
The intensity shines through the valley of gloom,
Even in sorrow, love heals the broken soul,
Conquers the fears and terror,
Your savory scent wheels away from the pangs of hunger,
As Mirza dies for his Heer,
And Romeo loved his Juliet to the end,
Ooh love what is your limit?
A young boy finds himself drunk in the cage of love,
He refuses to open the door of hate,
Even during light and darkness,
Love glitters through his little heart,
Ooh love what is your limit?
No matter your age or size,
You can’t conquer love,
The glow of love makes small kids defeat giants,
Chains and keys may lock you,
Love will come to unlock you,
Pain and anger won’t scare you,
Love will shoot them through you,
With love, the whole world flies,
In the space of hate and darkness,
Ooh love what is your limit?
You give kids wings to fly.
Love is the mountain of power and glory.
I am Prabhjot Kaur, and I am an international student from India. I am doing my Associate of Biology from Langara College, but I chose to study this literature course at TWU. I am the kind of person who is always open to learn new things, and poetry is one of them. I always wanted to write love poetry and when I looked at this street art, that is the first thing that came to mind and inspired me to write this poem. The art that I chose, The Missing Piece, is located on 5 East 8th Ave (in 7 ½ lane) in Vancouver, BC. It is done by Vancouver based artist named iHeart. Most of his work is social commentary and is very much like Banksy’s work.
Her feet united with the earth
Toes found grip
Soil and grasses generous hosts
She moved with confidence
The voice of her grandmother like the sun
Centuries of story and truth
Carried her gliding
On her people’s land
The land the Creator provided on
The back of a turtle.
Now as clouds paint the sky above her
As the sun rises and sets
The same land holds her
Feet tucked into grave
No name, no voice
No chance to mingle with Grandmother’s stories
Sing in her beautiful language.
White cloth blowing in the wind.
Melinda Dewsbury looks forward to leading her students in the study of multi-cultural, multi-lingual literature every summer. She joins them in the practice of ekphrastic writing and in the study of literature as a rhetorical and evaluative exploration of human relationships, our connection to the natural world, our identity, and our spiritual formation.
The Lady in the Painting
Malignity is absent here.
Raw materials breathe a mellow
insanity, but never fear.
On the contrary: they follow
laconically the colours pure,
minding only atmospheric
luxated lines in their demure
abdication of generic
intention. Overall, the mood,
intimate, conveys impressions
(emerging slowly from the dewed
nebulae of mild accretions
by glazing craftily obtained)
purposely reminding gazers
of visions from their youth unstained.
All you see, as sharp as razors--
because she knows the way by which
duller hues can contrasts render
besotting—is the beams that glitch
easy comfort whilst the splendour
you're wrapped in shakes you. Isn't she
little, standing in the middle,
between that old and twisted tree--
pondering facets of a riddle
recalling memories she fled
eagerly to dive in waters
obscure and filled with all the red
urges nurtured by our daughters
whenever they awoke—and this
cheerful, tall and bright old house where
none was supposed to grieve, where bliss
hardly leaves the place for elsewhere?
Remains of previous times don't leave
merely tracks and stains on canvas.
Observe the seasons: they reprieve
innocents alike and envious,
mellifluous scoundrels from the woes
lingering after the embrasement
and the embracement, and the throes
life, through the coming amazement,
is bringing with itself. Our child
is maintaining fragile balance.
Nonplussing whirls of paint beguiled
erring wanderers in the silence--
perhaps not silence, rather still
bits of life, remembered morsels
anonymously heaped until
otherwise blown—that ensorcells
deflated egos, humble wights.
By and by, the hours of winter
elapse together with the nights,
bartering the snow winds splinter,
long beating background hills, for chills
yellow dawns of springs forgotten
perchance will brighten. Warmth soon fills
beechy meadowlands, nook-shotten
ectopic groves in blossom where
ruthless birds of prey in hiding
unite and mate whilst they can bear
onwards as the day goes sliding.
Curvaceous fields in ranges stretch
westwards, blond vales with wheat pregnant
herefrom extending… Not a wretch
near the heiress standing regnant,
necrosis-free, will ever taste
heart-scald, loss and doubt. Redeeming
whoever, in a frenzied haste,
crosses her domain in dreaming,
orectic moods, she soothes the pangs
undeterred explorers bring to
realities in which time hangs
evermore heavier. They cling to
bewildered landscapes, not so still
pictured lives and vanities. Their
yokes and their shackles tamed their will,
lest these cold realities, their
belated lives one day be left
empty, desolate, and void of
bizarre, accepted slight—bereft,
destitute of filth, destroyed. Of
obliterating sprees that seize
Adamites, in shame rejecting
both roots and branches, leaving lees
plainly chaste, and sap deflecting
eloping mania to the wild,
netherwards—there's naught worth saying.
In times appointed, their defiled
innocence will stop decaying.
Long afternoons of summer pass
absently away. Our daughter's
lability's a looking-glass
mingling fires and lustral waters
in glebous magma and new forms
on the surface of her being.
Malignancy, through her, transforms
rust to light. As wisdom's freeing
her lips, her wordly gates unsealed,
now for all of us unveils the
cherished way out, the path concealed,
weft beneath the warp, and scales the
unvarnished paint won't hide. She sings
old, unheeded songs: an oral
ecbolic that delivers things
rampant with an anger aural.
Parhelic halos open skies
blankly void until old creatures
lasciviously crawl in, all eyes,
yearning power, control of nature's
effulging source which flows from here.
Beasts of prey, they hunt and feed on
debilitated hopes and sheer
blood—for her apostles bleed on
apocalyptic, cryptic glyphs
on the fabric kythed. The picture's
parerga will collapse. The gifts
bound to them—so many strictures,
narcotically induced—will fade.
Eerie comes the night's new winter.
In a day's year, time runs fast, made
in the dreamland of a painter.
All falls apart. She stands, her brush
lowered in midair, uncertain.
“Maybe I should this painting crush?
Leave it hid behind a curtain?
Obliterate it? Have it burnt?”
Icy voices from her artwork
remind her of the lesson learnt:
Marvel not at your own brushwork…
Romain P.-A. Delpeuch
This poem first appeared in the New English Review.
Author's note: "The Lady in the Painting" is the last chapter of a (so far unpublished) prosimetric novella, whose main character eventually becomes a painter. The poem is about her and one of her works. The painting it refers to is therefore completely imaginary.
Romain P.-A. Delpeuch was born and bred in southwest France, where he still lives. His poetry and short fiction have appeared, or are forthcoming, in New English Review and Terror House Magazine.
All the parts are here
though not enough of each
to go around these men
to components. Here is an eye
and an ear with a great grey tube
that oozes mud
and mustard on the table.
A sleeve is pressed and folded
neatly where an arm should be.
Only one leg between them
their lathed and varnished limbs
like balustrades. Their shadows
are all wrong and the hat rack is empty.
Faces explode in craters
ploughed furrows of bone and skin
raw pink ground where nothing grows
between tufted scrubs of moustache.
Here are a quarter skull and jaw bone
rendered in steel, branded,
etched with the faceless outline
of a bathing beauty they’ll not meet.
Here is a peeled smile, an empty eye
shot through to darkness beyond.
News hangs in the air
ignored, irrelevant, real
as the blue paper suit, real
as the playing cards pipped
with hearts and silent bells.
Between them the discard pile.
Every card is on show
yet they play in the dark
while death glows from the gas-lamp
like a caged moon.
Abigail Flint is a researcher from Sheffield (UK). Her poems have appeared in Popshot Quarterly, Consilience, About Larkin, 192 Magazine and Route 57, and in 2019 her poem "Coasting" placed second in the East Riding Festival of Words Poetry Competition. You can find her on twitter here@constantunusual
When we look at clouds, we see
flying horseheads or bearded giants
and miss the real.
Over two and a half billion drops
per cubic foot.
over half a million tons.
Friction juggling gravity
until the drops exceed
four one-hundreds of an inch.
What falls then, are not tears
or a simple transformation.
It is like Cezanne’s apples.
How he traded the sweetness of the flesh
For the cold force inside,
the force that binds the universe.
Author's note: "In my freshman year introductory art history class, we studied Cezanne’s Still Life with Commode, which was right there in front of us in the Fogg Museum. I was so mesmerized and kicked in the gut by this painting that I switched my major from government to art history. I was determined to understand the strength of my reaction and the fact that these apples seemed less like ordinary pieces of fruit, than some kind of very profound representation of essential experience and mysteries. I continued to focus on Cezanne and wrote my senior honours thesis on his self- portraits."
David Leeds is a sculptor and poet who currently resides in Ojai California. He studied Art History at Harvard. Before devoting himself to poetry and sculpting, he wrote and directed the cult western, Shoot The Sun Down, with Chris Walken and Margot Kidder. David studied poetry with Jack Gilbert and Linda Gregg, among others. His work has appeared in the California Quarterly Review, Parnassus Literary Journal, and in the upcoming September issue of Passager Journal as well as others.
Da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine
First day of Spring and All
I want to do is march up
and down the block proclaiming--
exactly what I’m not sure.
Until I notice a teenage girl
plopped on the grass
by the neighbourhood ball field
its bases gone. its linked
chain entangled in leafless vines.
She’s nuzzling I think
her newborn babe—pure emblem
of Spring. But no, it’s a
ferret, and she’s gazing
into the middle distance,
one hand securing its neck.
Nothing can convince me
I’m not back in Krakow, Poland,
the same Spring day--just stepping
out of the museum where I could be
DaVinci, having just tossed
his brushes into the turps
after the ferret nipped his hand
and he snarled at its owner,
the lady who had enough
of his nonstop invective, who storms
off with her pet, to sit and relax
in the delicious Spring afternoon.
Which is why I silently walk by.
Read another ekphrastic poem by Leonard Kress, here.
Leonard Kress has published poetry and fiction in Missouri Review, Massachusetts Review, Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, etc. His recent collections are The Orpheus Complex and Walk Like Bo Diddley. Living in the Candy Store and Other Poems and his new verse translation of the Polish Romantic epic, Pan Tadeusz by Adam Mickiewicz were both published in 2018. Craniotomy Sestinas appeared in 2020. He teaches philosophy and religion at Owens College in Ohio. www.leonardkress.com
How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Ekphrastic Flash Fiction Contest
One month. 1000 words. theme: How I Spent My Summer Vacation.
Entry fee: $10 CAD.
Winner: $100 CAD.
Choose one of these five paintings and use it as a prompt for a flash fiction story, along with the theme, "How I Spent My Summer Vacation."
How you interpret the artwork and the theme is up to you. Fifty to 1000 words including title.
Deadline: August 31, 2021
Submit your story to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with a brief bio.
Contest entry is below.
The Ekphrastic Review editor Lorette C. Luzajic and editor of Best Microfiction Anthology Series Meg Pokrass are joining forces to teach a five day ekphrastic flash workshop in August.
Click here for details.
The workshop is now full! You can still email your interest to Meg so we can keep you informed.
Click here or on image above to learn more or participate in the current ekphrastic writing challenge.
South Carolina Morning, by Jean L. Kreiling
Poet Jean L. Kreiling tries on Hopper's red dress.
White Flag, by Alexis Rhone Fancher
Alexis Rhone Fancher travels back in time with her photographer's eye.
Ekphrastic Writing Responses on Nighthawks, by Edward Hopper
One of our most popular challenges ever.
In a Western Motel, by Nan Wigington
Flash fiction on Hopper by one of our first place contest winners.
Reflecting on Loneliness, by Lorette C. Luzajic
An essay by yours truly on solitude, loneliness, and being an introvert in an extroverted world.
The Honey Hour, by Heloise Jones
Flash fiction on the painter's Cape Cod Morning.
The Paintings of Edward Hopper, by Michael Harmon
Poet Michael Harmon on a number of works.
Two Old Men and the Sea, by Lorette C. Luzajic
Another essay by yours truly on Hopper and Turner, too.
The House By the Railroad, by Mark A. Murphy
Poet Mark A. Murphy visits the infamous haunted Hopper house.
Send us your favourites from our archive for Throwback Thursday!
There are six years worth of writing at The Ekphrastic Review. With daily or more posts of poetry, fiction, and prose for most of that history, we have a wealth of talent to show off. We encourage readers to explore our archives by month and year in the sidebar. Click on a random selection and read through our history.
Our Throwback Thursday features writing from our past, chosen on purpose or chosen randomly. Discover past contributors, work you missed, or responses to older ekphrastic challenges.
Would you like to be a guest editor for a Throwback Thursday? Pick up to 10 favourite or random posts from the archives of The Ekphrastic Review. Use the format you see above: title, name of author, a sentence or two about your choice, and the link. Include a bio and if you wish, a note to readers about the Review, your relationship to the journal, ekphrastic writing in general, or any other relevant subject. Put THROWBACK THURSDAYS in the subject line and send to email@example.com.
Let's have some fun with this- along with your picks, send a vintage photo of yourself too!
Edward Weston, Shell (13S), 1927
Here is the curvature of the world.
Slipping a hand into this porcelain moment,
through the eye of that opening
with its knife-edge strata folded
like the anticline exposed in a roadcut,
fingertips register a change in temperature.
The gray interior is cool
like an ocean cave at low tide.
You hear the skittering of crabs
and the slap of fish on water
and something else retreating
farther into the darker chambers.
Your hand's shadow slides across the
slick central column and you remember
a woman's thigh rising from black sheets
in a back room, you remember
the arc of a man's arm reaching upward
between sunflecked waves.
Inside the shell is pearlsmooth
like the wet lining of a mouth,
and you curl your hand
like a tongue against a cheek.
Outside, tracing your thumb
along the pinnacle is like
testing the sharpness of a blade.
You will bleed
seawater from a gill-like slit,
silver nitrate from a papercut.
There is convex to this concave,
surface to this depth:
the disappearing curl of the outer shell
rounds the spiraled shaft like a cresting wave
encircling the trunk of a cypress,
like mist swirling around a unicorn's horn.
Your other hand reaches out
to cup the swell, discovering
in the rippled pattern
a dry texture of sculpted sandstone.
Now, you think, I possess.
There is the distant click
of the shutter, but the photograph will not
hold your image
holding the image
of the shell,
its unseen images.
Yet always you are there,
one hand cradling, one hand penetrating,
the body of a woman
the body of a man
like a musical instrument
or a message in twists of light
or the sound of the ocean retreating into
the chambers of your ear.
The image possesses you
long after the flash fades
and the shell
begins its slow roll off the pedestal,
carrying with it your own body
painted on the cave wall, drawn
in the patterns only the mollusk can interpret.
Translated in the morning, imperfectly,
like a dream.
Carrie Naughton is a freelance bookkeeper who writes speculative fiction, nature essays, and poetry. Her work can be read at Strange Horizons, Zoomorphic, and Crab Creek Review. Her website is carrienaughton.com, and she writes an eclectic newsletter at CarrieThis.substack.com.
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