Artistic Inspiration: Ekphrastic Writing Prompts

Ekphrastic Challenge

Ekphrasis is a word used to describe the written response (usually in the form of a poem) to a piece of visual art. I find it inspiring and intriguing, partly because it provokes so many questions and layers of meaning… Does the poem still make sense away from the artwork? Do the writer and artist agree on their interpretation of the piece? Can both poem and artwork interact and create new meanings together?   

Ekphrastic writing is also useful for anyone (like me) who suffers from writer’s block. Visual artwork starts to drip-feed into your subconscious, inspiring parts of your brain that you weren’t even aware of, and stimulating those inspirational cogs into an ekphrastic whirr.

The Gate art1

Art on the walls of The Gate

An Ekphrastic Writing Group

That’s why I decided to start a new writing group specifically to draw inspiration from visual art. (Note – this workshop is no longer taking place)

We usually have a go at an image related writing excercise, then take a look at one or two examples of published ekphrastic poems. There’s also an opportunity to select a piece of artwork on display in The Gate, and write something of your own. We will occasionally invite artists to these sessions too, to provide additional insight into their work.

Although this group is no longer running, you may find it helpful to look at this online writing prompt from a poetry magazine called Rattle – they provide a new image each month, giving you the opportunity to write something in response and submit it for publication. Visual Verse has a similar regular image prompt.

The recent photography exhibition

Artwork by Piotr in the photography exhibition

If you’d like to have a go at writing your own ekphrastic poetry, have a look at these previous posts, to get some inspiration…

Ekphrastic Poetry from Kelly Grovier

Book Review: Too Brave to Dream – newly discovered poems by R.S Thomas

Pre-Raphaelite Women: Poetry in Response to Art

And here’s an interesting list of 14 different ways to write an ekphrastic poem, on a blog post by Martyn Crucefix.


4 thoughts on “Artistic Inspiration: Ekphrastic Writing Prompts

  1. Good day ,

    I don’t know how it works but I love to join to the meetings . I study creative writing in Cardiff university . Is it possible that I can join in meets ?

    Nadia Han

    • We try to start by 7.50 / 7.55pm if possible – if you arrive later you may miss the introductions / first excercise.

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