Each month, the Spoken Art webpage will feature artwork by a different San Mateo County artist, and invite San Mateo County residents of all ages to create and submit poems written in response to the art. Quarterly celebrations will host both writers and artists, with a reading of selected poems, viewing of the art, and a chance to meet the poets and artists.
Poems about art — “ekphrastic” poetry — have a long, rich history. They can broaden our enjoyment and understanding of many kinds of art, of the poets’ lives and voices, and of the communities they represent. Ekphrastic poems take many different paths: some offer a vivid description of the artwork, others detail personal reactions, still others create a story or commentary, or even a conversation with the people or objects shown. Some well-known examples in English include “In the Musée des Beaux Arts” by W.H. Auden, John Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn,” and “My Last Duchess" by Robert Browning.
Poet Laureate Lisa Rosenberg created Spoken Art as a way to increase audience and recognition for the county’s poets and visual artists alike, offering a springboard for new writing that draws on the talents of San Mateo County’s diverse, vibrant artistic community.
“A quick stop in any coastside or bayside gallery gives us a hint of the amazing array of artists we have in San Mateo County. It struck me that an ekphrastic project would be a great way to include visual artists in my charter of increasing opportunities for county residents to create and share poetry.”
Spoken Art will present artwork of varied media, including painting, sculpture, textiles, and photography, from artists all across the county. Each submission period for poems will span several months of artwork.
The current call for submissions ends on September 8th. Visit the Spoken Art webpage to view the art and submit your poem.
A sampling of books with ekphrastic poetry can be found in the San Mateo County Libraries collection.