Artist Frida Kahlo focused much of her art on the self portrait. As Kahlo herself said, “I paint myself because I am so often alone and because I am the subject I know best.” Her self portraits were often out of the ordinary – Kahlo herself was always an eclectic representation of femininity. But, for example, one of her more famous portraits, “The Little Deer” is of her head painted on the body of a deer riddled with arrows.
So, here is your prompt: write a poem that portrays the self. YOUR self. Borrow from Frida and make your self portrait out of the ordinary, surreal, beautiful, weird. Put flowers in your hair, or paste your head onto the body of an animal. Please share your results!
Ekphrasis is described in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a literary description of or commentary on a visual work of art.” The first time I wrote an ekphrastic poem, Shanalee and I were prompted by our 300 level poetry teacher at the U of A. She asked the entire class to visit our college’s art gallery, which had photography on display at the time. Some people wrote a line or two about several photos that they liked, some wrote about a single picture that really spoke to them.
There are dozens of ways to interpret ekphrasis. When writing an ekphrastic poem, you can choose to acknowledge in the poem that you’re writing about a picture or piece of art. Frank O’Hara, who was a poet and an art critic, does something like this in his poem “Why I Am Not a Painter.” Or, you can choose to write wholly engulfed in the world of the art piece.
Elect a picture, sculpture, painting, or other form of art and write an ekphrastic poem about it. You can use the photograph I’ve included here if it inspires you, or pick one of your own. Please share your results!