13 September 2011

Ekphrasis Report #12 part 1

Things are about to change! Our Ekphrasis meeting last night focused on how we can change, develop, and improve to embrace more people, more genres, and a wider vision. Here's what happened.

First, we spent some time in our usual workshop mode (which has actually been on hold for the summer while we had larger, performative-style events). Sharon Barshinger read a new monologue she has written as part of a series. These monologues are quite varied: Biblical, allegorical, mythical, fantastical, realistic. Last night's was spoken in the persona of Haddaseh (Esther), reflecting on her awful marriage and her place in God's huge, painful plan. We discussed the dilemma of a writer who "writes in the blanks" of the Bible: how to balance fidelity to the Biblical text with literary originality. Sharon has also set herself a challenge: the piece was really a dialogue between Esther and Mordecai, with Mordecai's lines left out. So we talked about how difficult it is to write one side of a conversation in such a way that it both sounds natural and recreates the missing half of the discussion.

Next, Marian Barshinger shared a piece of creative writing she composed in connection with performing in the play Shall We Join the Ladies by J. M. Barrie. This murder mystery drama ends indeterminately: the audience has to decide for themselves whodunnit. Well, one time when the Barshinger's drama company was producing this play, the cast was encouraged to write their characters' "backstory": what happened to them before the play began. They decided Marian's character had committed the murder, so she wrote why and how she did it, while the rest wrote up their alibis. Marian's piece was brilliant. She has a great sense of character development, dialogue, and timing/pacing. The story was delightful. I think she could publish it as a short story to accompany Barrie's play.

Next, John Alexanderson shared one of his lovely, well-crafted poems. This one is set in Sante Fe, and is a crafty description of the landscape in the narrative frame of the narrator and another person doing a crossword puzzle. The language plays with the idea of crosswords, bringing strikes, squares, pondering, and hints into the landscape and the relationship.

tomorrow: part two on how Ekphrasis plans to grow and change. Thursday: part three on the crafting of a vision statement for Ekphrasis

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