Ekphrastic and the Power of Images

I've noticed, over the past few years teaching, that children are more and more interested not in words on the page and the imagination it takes to build stories, but gravitate instead toward graphic novels, picture books, and movies.

I wasn't surprised. Have you seen "Gatsby" or "Transformers?" Those little flicks are candy to your eye-tongues. Gorgeous and thrilling. What's a book? Words, words, words (to quote a little Hamlet).

I learned today that there's a form of poetry that's inspired by artwork, something visual. Again, not surprised, but it made me think. Images are provocative. They're unsettling, comforting, alluring, and . There's an enormous amount of truth in that adage: a picture is worth a thousand words.

There's the task of the poet and writer. A poet attempts to squeeze a thousand words into fewer words, and then take that quotient and divide those words into still fewer words, until we find the one word to fill the gap, to express 1000 words.

Until then, here's my ekphrastic poem, inspired from La Sagrada Familia, the single greatest structural devotion on the planet to God.


I grew up
with the Lord’s prayer.
To see the
words, inscribed
in everlasting metal,
I change my Amen.

-JR Simmang


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