What ekphrasis means to me – Crysse Morrison

Crysse Morrison is a Frome based writer. She is co-founder of the ‘Words at the Black Swan writing workshop. It was Crysse who first introduced me to the term ‘ekphrasis’ I asked her what ekphrasis meant to her…

What do you understand Ekphrasis to mean?
I take it to mean a piece of writing inspired by an artefact rather than nature or thought

Do you think that Ekphrasis is a form of plagiarism?
Not at all, any more than photography plagiarises life.  Every medium brings other elements into focus, enhancing experience in a different way

It has been said that Ekphrastic writing is a lazy way to get inspiration, that writers should get their own ‘first hand’ inspiration. How would you respond?
It seems extraordinary to make any kind of qualitative hierarchy of inspiration. Where would you place dreams? Is it ‘lazier’ to write from experience or imagination? Keats wrote from an urn and a nightingale. Auden’s fabulous Icarus poem blends art with myth and private thought. There are so many examples that show, as Iris Murdoch wrote, ‘the arts form not a pyramid but a circle’. 

How would you value writing in response to visual arts?  
I find it challenging, and humbling, and exciting and surprising, so I value the process highly. In terms of outcome, I would value an ekphrastic poem in the same way as any other poem, in terms of how deeply it touched and/or stirred me.

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