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Ekphrasis, the British Library and Alice in Wonderland

alicesml

Lewis Carroll: ‘Alice’s Adventures Under Ground’
British Library Add. MS 46700, f.19v
Copyright © The British Library Board
A high-quality version of this image can be purchased from British Library Images Online. For more information email imagesonline@bl.uk

ALICE AT THE BRITISH LIBRARY

We are delighted to announce that our next Ekphrasis event will take place in conjunction with the British Library and the Alice in Wonderland exhibition.

2015 is the 150th anniversary of the publication of Alice in Wonderland and the year will culminate with an exhibition opening in November, which will be exploration of the book itself and the themes it explores in the main foyer of the British Library. Very excitingly our evening event will also take place in the main foyer of the British Library on March 4th 2016 and it will be a cabaret of poetry and song written especially in response to the work on display.

We are inviting poets and songwriters from all over the country to take part but this time we also wish to compile and publish a full anthology of Alice inspired poetry and will commission poets to write their own poem in response to the exhibition or to any aspect of the book.

We will also, as before, invite poem submissions from everyone inspired in some way by Alice, two of whom will be invited to join us on stage in the evening, with the publication of a further three other winning poems offered within the anthology.

It is hard to imagine a world without Alice. Reading it today, it still seems fresh and alive. And so we invite you all to consider your own response to this classic, thinking through any of the very many ways Carroll has shaped or freed our imagined world, our perception of childhood, even our very use of language.
Keats

WHO WE ARE

Emer Gillespie, Abegail Morley and Catherine Smith, together we share a passion for creating a dialogue between the arts.

‘It’s the exciting bit, really….how arts practitioners in one sphere can take something created by an arts practitioner in another sphere and see something fresh and inspiring in it,’ Catherine Smith

‘I find that what I see and read sets off a chain of thoughts in my own head that can lead to a poem I would never have thought of writing in the first place. The poem furthers my communication with a work of art, I can talk back to it, talk back to the artist who created it, or explore the resonance it creates inside me,’ Emer Gillespie.

EKPHRASIS provides an evening of conversation and exploration inviting collaboration with some of the most original voices working in poetry today.

Exhibition details will be posted up on the British Library site shortly.

Previously we worked with The Royal Academy of Arts:

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Emer Gillespie’s shed

emer

MY SHED

 
If I had a shed, it would be a cold walk down
a frosty garden, filled with white, feathered grasses,
leaf mulch in flower beds, to the far corner
and a door with a lock and bolt, stiff to slide open
 
with my gloved fingers, the house behind
calling me back. Pushing on into the gloom, I would
turn on the gas on that camping stove I’ve had for years,
strike match after match, until the flame took,
 
blue with yellow at its heart, and put the water on.
Getting used to the smell of mildew and the lack of light,
I’d look around, find, leaning up against the wall,
that bookcase filled with books I’ll always keep,
 
take in the table, the skewiff chair, the open notebook
and the pen, quickly glance down, as if avoiding
some old friend I can’t bring myself to talk to on the street,
I’d place a teabag in the old, chipped mug, sink
 
into that button-backed armchair I had as a girl,
threadbare now, sagging where it should, keeping my coat
wrapped around me, tight against the cold, listening
to the slow rumble of water coming to the boil,
 
breathing out, watching my breath, blowing rings,
look towards the window, ice that patterns the cracked glass
creating a haze beyond which the garden hibernates,
a phone rings somewhere else, steam rises,
 
gas flames and the ice begins to melt, soften, disintegrate.
The page won’t go away. The pen rolls across the table.
If I had a shed, I’d stand, cross over, straighten up
that skewiff chair, take off my coat.

 
 
Emer Gillespie is co-founder of Ekphrasis with Abegail Morley and Catherine Smith and currently researching a PhD at Kent in Poetry and Translation working with Dante’s Commedia.

Her first collection, THE INSTINCT AGAINST DEATH, was published by Pindrop Press in October 2012.

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Book of Sand

frontcover

An alternating sequence of poetry and visual art, where poems inspire art and art inspires poetry. This pamphlet showcases the work of six poets and five artists and is designed, edited and published by Karen Dennison.

Poems by Emer Gillespie, Anna Kisby, Sharon Black, Valerie Morton, Abegail Morley and E.E. Nobbs. Artwork by Chris Ruston, Michaela Ridgway, Gwen Simpson, Sam Smith and Karen Dennison.

The pamphlet takes its name from, and begins with a poem written in response to, the short story The Book of Sand by Jorge Luis Borges. The poem was given to an artist to respond to with any form of visual art and that artwork was in turn given to a poet to respond to and so on, resulting in a sequential chain of responses. The chain is ongoing and so there will be at least one more edition – to find out more about being involved please contact Karen.

“A unique meeting of visionary poets and artists, who enter into a dialogue that at once informs and heightens their individual works. This small collection is a joy, and once again confirms that we need both the visual and the verbal to understand the world as a whole.” — Tamar Yoseloff

The Clearing

Why did I walk naked into the forest
that June morning? Did the sun sweep
its flashlight across my heart
to reveal a sudden herd of longings?

The petals of the flag iris tremble and arch
until they darken with moisture.
A mountain can be a vantage point,
a ledge.

In the patterns of a birch bark I thought I saw
the back of a wolf ’s head. Yes –
half-revealed by the dew
a wolf rising, rising towards the leaves.

Sharon Black

6 Gwen Simpson

Gwen Simpson – Through the Mist; Hand-cut coloured 70lb Canford card; 15cm x 10.7cm. Photographs of this book are in the Book of Sand along with illustrations and paintings from the other artists.

To buy click here

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Robert Peake on Reading at the Royal Academy

Stolen from his blog with kind permission: here

Last night I participated in a truly unique poetry reading sponsored by Ekphrasis. A dozen of us poets dispersed ourselves amongst installations in the Sensing Spaces architectural exhibit at the Royal Academy. As patrons wandered through the exhibits, we read poems to them, which we had written in response to these very spaces.

It was challenging. Bursting into poetry as the spirit moved me felt a bit like trying photo-1-300x300to be a one-man flashmob. Having never done any busking, I was unaccustomed to people wandering into or out of a room while I was reading a poem. Based on their responses, I think it was challenging, too, for the patrons. I saw many a bemused and bewildered smile.

Often, when we encounter something surprising like a provocative art installation, we seek guidance–in the placards on the walls, or the words of a knowledgeable guide. Yet we poets were the opposite of guides–raising yet more questions in response to their questions, bringing our own thoughts, music, and imagery to bear. The patrons were therefore simultaneously experiencing their own responses to the installations, and responding to ours. Challenging, indeed.

Yet challenge is not a bad thing in art; far from it. Being of service to an artistic experience, even if it is a bit personally uncomfortable to pull off, is always a privilege. To do something truly original like this is rare. We are so accustomed to the conventions of performance, so comfortable in knowing our place on either side of the “fourth wall”.

A film crew was on site to record the evening’s antics. Having individuals dressed in black point high-end videography equipment at you pretty well guarantees that people will gather in the form of an audience, and clap at the end. It is a familiar format; it tells us our roles. Yet some of the most interesting moments for me involved a more causal mix of reading, conversing, and admiring the spaces. I also managed to experience several other poets reading as well, which was fascinating, and made me feel proud to take part.

The challenge of it also brought us poets together with a sense of solidarity. For the patrons, I think it added an element of surprise. There was an atmosphere of playfulness last night that I had not experienced in my previous visit. You never knew when you might round a corner, and there would be someone reading a poem. I felt a bit like a poetry ninja.

Ekphrasis also put together a handsome anthology of the poems, which they made available to us all on the night. Hearty thanks are due, and congratulations, to Emer Gillespe and Abegail Morley for pulling this off with such grace, as well as Owen Hopkins of the RA, Kate Goodwin the curator of the Sensing Spaces exhibit, and of course the six remarkable architects who realised these installations for us all to enjoy. Here’s to more layered and provocative artistic experiences to come.

You can read all six poems I wrote in response to the Sensing Spaces exhibit, and listen to audio recordings, on my Sensing Spaces, Wandering Words page.

Robert Peake

Robert Peake is an American poet living in England. His newest short collection is The Silence Teacher (Poetry Salzburg, 2013). His previous short collection was Human Shade (Lost Horse Press, 2011).

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EKPHRASIS at the Royal Academy

Sensing Spaces: Wandering Words

sensing

Friday March 7 2014 7pm – 9pm

Seven internationally influential architects transform the main galleries of the Royal Academy of Art in London, ten poets respond to their work in an exciting evening of peripatetic poetry.

‘Imagine, feel, share, explore, touch, reflect’ – where we are shapes how we feel, what we hear colours our experience… We are delighted to announce our first event in collaboration with the Royal Academy.

The poets contributing response to Sensing Spaces are:

Patricia Debney Sasha Dugdale Ian Duhig Martin Figura Vanessa Gebbie Emer Gillespie Helen Ivory Maureen Jivani Edward Mackay Abegail Morley Robert Peake Catherine Smith Tamar Yoseloff

Picture1

Two members of the public will be invited to read as part of the evening alongside established poets. If you would like to take part, please send your work to info@ekphrasis.org.uk

Tickets for the event can be booked on the main RA website.

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined

25 January — 6 April 2014

http://www.royalacademy.org.uk/sensingspaces

WHO WE ARE

Abegail Morley, Catherine Smith and Emer Gillespie, together we share a passion for creating a dialogue between the arts.

‘It’s the exciting bit, really….how arts practitioners in one sphere can take something created by an arts practitioner in another sphere and see something fresh and inspiring in it,’ Catherine Smith

‘I find that what I see and read sets off a chain of thoughts in my own head that can lead to a poem I would never have thought of writing in the first place. The poem furthers my communication with a work of art, I can talk back to it, talk back to the artist who created it, or explore the resonance it creates inside me,’ Emer Gillespie.

EKPHRASIS provides an evening of conversation and exploration inviting collaboration with some of the most original voices working in poetry today.