September 23, 2022

Poetry collides with photography in this reading of ekphrastic poetry

Ekphrastic poetry vividly describes a scene, artwork, or in this case, photography. Poets from the North Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA, have been invited to participate in an ekphrastic poetry reading organized by Olympic Peninsula Authors, where they will collaborate on a photographic project undertaken by students from Port Angeles High School.

Reflecting on the pandemic, students were invited to share how their lives had changed during and after the pandemic through photos for the exhibit The World on Pause: Youth Perspectives on a Generation – Defining the Experience. Through a series of online workshops, students were guided on how to develop their documentary photography skills so they could share their experiences through photos with a wider audience.

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In a poetry reading that takes place at Port Angeles Center for Fine Arts15 poets will read their ekphrastic poems based on interpretations of individual photos of The world on pause project. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the Washington State Arts Commission, this is the first student-organized exhibit in more than a year due to the pandemic.

Along with their photos, the students were also asked to write a short statement, highlighting the thoughts and feelings they tried to convey in their work. In an effort to make the conversation two-way, there is a space in the gallery where visitors can write messages to young photographers.

This collaboration was born out of the work of Amy McIntyre, local photographer and artist teacher, and Sarah Jane, gallery and program director at the fine arts center. Together they worked with Port Angeles High School teachers to engage more than 500 teenagers in conversation about their experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The poetry reading will take place at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center on February 24 from 5:30-7:00 PST, but attendees have been asked to warm up as the event is taking place outdoors. Photos of The world on pause the exhibition can also be viewed online in the gallery at The Esther Webster Gallery.

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