Blog 8: Ekphrastic poetry inspired by Romani artists and their works

Artist Ceiji Stojka, Holocaust (O Porrajmos) survivor, with one of her paintings

Artist Ceiji Stojka, Holocaust (O Porrajmos) survivor, with one of her paintings

This week’s blog is dedicated to ekphrastic poetry, that is, poetry about visual art. So your assignment is to write a 20 line free-verse poem on/inspired by a work of art by a Romani artist. Quite a number of the writers anthologized in Roads of the Roma, so if you have the book, check out the contributor’s bios at the back of the book and do some research on their artworks. Look for something that ‘calls to you,’ you might not necessarily like or dislike the artwork–look for something that strikes you as interesting. Spend some time analyzing the piece– look for symbols, consider the title, materials, color, shape, texture, shape, line, tone, mood, read the artist’s statement if there is one, and come up with some ideas about what the message of the work might be. What is its ‘argument’? Write your observations as your 300 word blog post, and post a link to the artwork that you find so we can see what we’re all working on.

Then, you’re ready to write your poem. You might want to write about the piece’s message, or describe the piece in detail as though it were a place/thing (real or imaginary), you might take a small symbol, metaphor, or idea and run with it in your own direction. Allow yourself to experiment. A good way to acknowledge and reference you’re inspired by is to include the artwork’s title and the artist’s name in your title, a subtitle, or in the body your poem. Experiment to see what seems more natural for your poem. Use some of the poetic terms and techniques that we’ve gone over in class: metaphor, simile, rhyme and slant rhyme (remember to keep it free-verse), repetition, rhythm, imagery, sensory detail, and your individual creativity.

Here’s a list of some links to get you started, but feel free to do your own research:

Romani Arts– affiliated with Pacific University

Romani Design– fashion by Erika Varga— Hungary’s first haute couture Romani fashion designer

The New Romani Art: a lecture by Thomas Acton, Emeritus Professor of Romani Studies, University of Greenwich, UK

Romani Cultural Arts & Company

The Gypsy Chronicles Roma Artists— a list of artists for you to look up

Blog 7: Romani Literature

For this week, I’d like you to select a poem (one of the assigned poems for this week, preferably) from Roads of the Roma: a PEN Anthology of Gypsy Writers edited by Ian Hancock, Siobhan Dowd, Rajko Djuric, and do a little research and analysis. Find out about the poet, the time it was written, and give an analysis of the poem. Remember that we can’t assume that the author is the “speaker” in the poem, unless it’s noted that the work is autobiographical. For your analysis, notice the metaphors and similes the writer uses, the patterns in the work, the rhythm, the images… and give your interpretation, supported by your evidence. 300 words minimum, due Friday 3/22. Remember to comment on a peer’s blog by Sunday night. Think of the comments as an opportunity to have an intellectual/artistic discussion with your classmates.

The interesting thing about this anthology is that it is anthologized by culture, and also by theme. These are all poems about Romani culture and history. So there are a lot of Romani writers who write about other things, but I wanted to use this anthology to teach because 1.) It’s a brilliant anthology, 2.) almost all the writers in the anthology are living writers, and 3.) art is a connection between people of all cultures, and a wonderful way to learn about the human experience–the things we share and the things we can discover about each other. Doesn’t that just melt your heart?

You can by the book through Herts or Amazon, for the readers who aren’t in the class 😉

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Papusza, the mother of Romani literature ❤