Blog 9: Ekphrastic Poetry inspired by the work of Romani Artists


Katarzyna Pollok, Sara in a Snailhouse (2002). Acrylic on canvas, 60 × 80 cm, appeared in Signs Journal

“Artist Statement
Sara is the name of a saint worshipped by Roma in the south of France. She is supposed to have come with the Three Marys as their maid from Israel after the death of Jesus Christ. I took the story to show that we Roma have forever been regarded as coming from somewhere else, that we have always needed shelter, that we have always lived our vibrant culture, that we are still in hiding, and that we have always had our roots: India.

In my artistic expression I travel across boundaries. This also means that I do not adhere to any fixed style or genre of art but “nomadize” through all the forms, traditions, icons, and images I come across in my life. My art is also both the means and the outcome of my personal struggle for Roma identity. We Romani painters still have to generate something unique and undetachable from our Romani identity, just as we have developed in our music. My goal has always been to achieve something in a new, cosmopolitan, universal scheme, but it remains a long road. The Indian roots, the Holocaust, and our trauma, the hiding, the longing for justice and protection are some ever-returning topics in my work.”

Ekphrastic poetry is poetry inspired by/written in response to an artwork. Traditionally, ekphrastic poetry is written about visual art, like a painting, sculpture, photograph, drawing, or collage, etc. This is the kind of ekphrastic poem we’ll be writing for class. Over the years, ekphrastic art has expanded to include theatre, cinema, dance, and music, as well as other art forms, and you can experiment with them outside of class if you like.

Here is a list of links to Romani artists’ names, works, and/or websites, as well as some other helpful resources: links to artworks by Romani artists Marcel Hognon, Manouche sculptor Mona, Manouche painter a list of names of Romani artists that you can Google for images and information Museum of Roma Culture, Brno, Czech Republic Click on the artist that you want to learn more about Art by Romani women Lita Cabellut, Romani painter from Barcelona Elements and Principles of art

Feel free to branch out and do more research to find a piece of art not listed here. The most important thing is that you find a work by a Romani artist that inspires you. Link to the work of art that you’ve selected in your response post so we can all see it. That artwork that you use to write your blog response should also be the artwork you use to write your ekphrastic poem. Likewise, the artist’s name and the work’s title should appear in your poem’s title or subtitle so the reader understands the context and references. Your poem can respond to any aspect of the artwork– maybe you want to recreate the color scheme and mod of the painting, or maybe you want to create an extended metaphor using the artwork’s symbols. Consider how culture, rituals, politics, and beliefs play in the piece too. In your blog response, analyse the artwork that you’ve chosen in 300 words or more. Use the elements and principles of art to help you analyse with specific examples. Read the artwork like you would a poem. You can also use this as an opportunity to discuss what you want to write your poem about and why.


Lita Cabellut, COCO 42 – MIXED MEDIA ON LINEN – 110 X 79 INCHES – 2011

Bill Lowe Gallery


One thought on “Blog 9: Ekphrastic Poetry inspired by the work of Romani Artists

  1. Reblogged this on jessicareidy and commented:
    This is from my class blog– I teach “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves: Writing Creatively about Romani Culture” at FSU and my students are awesome. Check out their response posts if you’re interested. But the reason I am re-posting is because I found so many wonderful contemporary Romani artists and posted the links there to help my students with their ekphrastic poetry assignment, and I was so happy to find myself falling in love with artist after artist. If you want to take a look at the contemporary Romani visual arts and culture scene, it’s a good list to start from.

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