Ekphra — What?

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by Pieter Bruegel

Even though I’m usually creative and generative, there are just times when I feel like I have a writer’s block. Usually, they occur whenever I feel the urge to update my blog. I sit in front of the computer and stare at it wanly because nothing really seems to come up. I’ve almost had it with these restless nights and blank pages, so I decided to write a blog post (or a series of posts) that will address this issue, and I thought that it would be nice to share it here, too.

The very first thing that came to my mind when I was thinking of prompts was ekphrasis (ecphrasis is also acceptable). Originally, this refers to describing things vividly, which seemed to have occupied some Greek poets like Homer and Virgil. For some odd reason, when Homer lengthily described Achilles’ shield in The Iliad, the rest of the poets during his time found it fashionable, and on they went writing about almost all of the Greek heroes’ shields. While I first read about this, I actually giggled since it reminded me of lemmings jumping off a cliff.

Anyway, I digress. Let’s get back to the topic.

In more recent times – well, relatively recent – we can see examples of ekphrasis in W.H. Auden’s re-imagination of the shield of Achilles. There’s also a poem about Bruegel’s Landscape with the Fall of Icarus by William Carlos Williams. Another good example, this time in prose, comes from Oscar Wilde’s description of Dorian’s picture in The Picture of Dorian Grey. It’s fairly common in literature, so why shouldn’t we put some literariness in blog posts?

While the core concept – describing something in detail – is the same, works containing ekphrasis also moves with the times, which I actually agree with. Reading a blog post that describes, in 14 megapixel resolution, an ingrown toe nail would be nice, but it could be better if a twist was added in. I, for one, would like to read about interpretations of what can be seen. For example, what could Mona Lisa be smiling about based on the precise angles of the lines of her lips? On the other hand, it could also be a description of something so familiar and yet, the readers will feel alienated from that familiarity and is seeing the new object in a new and detailed way. If the subject is interesting enough, it could become a situation where one can be apart of like in the The Garden of Earthly Delights. If you were there, what part of the painting are you in, and what are you doing? There are so many things to choose to describe even if it’s not a painting or work of art. Yes –even if it’s an ingrown toe nail – since we don’t want to sound like Homer and his posse.

This ekphrasis prompt seems to intrigue me. While I won’t demonstrate an ekphrastic piece of writing this time, I’ll keep this prompt in mind, especially if I get another sleepless night staring at a blank screen, looking at the cursor, blinking (It rhymes. Ooops! Sorry for another squirrel moment). If you’re reading this, I hope that you’ll leave a comment with a link to something that is ekphrastic.


One thought on “Ekphra — What?

  1. Pingback: Blog Promt: Doodles « The Velociwritetor

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