04 January 2012

Ekphrasis Report #14

Sorry, I failed to report on the Nov. meeting, then we didn't have one in December. But here we are again, in full swing.

This was an excellent, well-attended meeting, mostly because many of our college-student members are home on break. There were 13 people present: TMcC, SMB, KP, JH, MD, JF, NJ, JA, ES, BG, CS, ES, and myself.

We began with a discussion of our affiliation with the International Arts Movement, which will become more clearly defined after I attend a regional leaders' conference in February -- more on that later. For now, we share the vision of "rehumanizing" our little corner of the world, pursuing excellence in our arts, and encouraging church-and-art dialogue.

We also spoke briefly about the excellent work one Ekphrasian is doing in documentary film with The Backyard Philly Project. Please check it out.

Over the course of the evening, we had 4 poems, one personal narrative, two pieces of piano music, and one piece of fiction. I would love for more visual and performance artists to join us to broaden our conversations and our cross-disciplinary experience. As it was, we had good talks about many topics.

We discussed how hard it is to create a sense of immediacy in a personal narrative, which JH achieved very well with a sorrowful personal narrative.

We talked about how to balance originality and inspiration, as JA did in a poem responding to Flowers of Flame: Unheard Voices of Iraq.

We talked about form, freedom, meter, rhyme, and line breaks in relation to two poems on opposite ends of the form-spectrum: a Villanelle by ES and a piece of free verse by KP. ES's piece prompted some cursory talk about how to appropriate Biblical metaphors (in her case, a gate) in ways that are still relevant to the 21st century. KP's piece also led to a discussion of how to respond to a specific Biblical passage in a way that is original, artistic, personally meaningful, and accurate -- which is a huge challenge.

We talked about some of the difficulties in the lives of Beethoven and Rachmaninoff in conjunction with NJ's performance (off-the-cuff, from memory, over break!) of a sonata movement by B and a prelude by R. He apologized for the "depressing" nature of these two pieces, which gave me a perfect opportunity to pull out a saying SPB (oops, now SPG -- she got married!) and I like to use: "Depressing is good as long as it's well done."

TMcC's poem, as usual, led to a profound and thoughtful conversation about living life in a fully conscious manner. This time, it had to do with the meaningless routine of analyzing-to-death that happens, unfortunately, in many college classes. He said, for instance, that many English professors sever the text from its context, encourage any and all uneducated interpretations, and ignore history/biography/etc. This becomes a ritualistic, superficial application of one theory, say, feminism, in a brainless methodical way.

I shared a bit of very rough fiction that, to my chagrin, promoted a discussion of cliches and originality in fantasy! Shame on me! I'll have to do better....
So, all in all, an excellent and inspiring evening! Won't you join us next time?

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