Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Ekphrastico! Matina Stamatakis on Her Beautiful Chapbook, ek~ae

Some months back, for students of a prior course I was teaching, I posted this. It's poet and editor (of Venereal Kittens) Matina Stamatakis's response to a couple questions I asked during conversation about ekhprastic work, text-image poems, and other things that came out of my interest in reading her Dusie chapbook ek~ae.

If you are a student in my classes, you're embarking on manuscript projects, book making, performing text, and so forth, this should be of interest. If you are someone else, this should still be of interest - unless you don't "do" text or image, at which point I do not know what to tell you.

If you could say anything about this piece, what might you say/write/recursively respond to?

When I set out to design this book, I was heavily into French poetry at the time. One book in particular, The Cubist Poets in Paris: An Anthology, really fueled my interest for the visual and textual. Although this book isn't exactly "ekphrastic", it helped me formulate my own view and approach to making an ekphrastic piece work:

1. creating disconnection with the visual and textual.

With ek~ae, I focused on a point of reference with each image. Rather than looking at the image as a whole, I visualized a tiny part of the image, a sliver, then worked it into a poem that stood on its own, but also worked with the image--in some cases, against it.

2. writing on a picture outside the picture

When I set out to write this book, I was more interested in what wasn't shown. For example, in the case of Dissecting H, there was an image of graffiti mixed with snippets of torn newspapers. Rather than writing a poem about the graffiti, or even the words surrounded by graffiti, I focused on the feeling of chaos, disjointed appearances, rough and unrelenting landscapes. By doing this, I was able to create an image that worked outside of the given image, which, in effect, made the overall impression stronger.

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