Saturday, April 30, 2016

Prompt #252 – Pop Art Poetry: Ekphrasis Revisited

Today is the last day of National Poetry Month, and I hope you all enjoyed April's month-long celebration. I'd like to especially thank and acknowledge the poets who shared their poems with us in the comments section of post #251. And now, back to regular posts!

It’s always fun to work with ekphrasis, which unites two art forms and gives us opportunities to create something unique through inspiration from another artwork.

In the past, we’ve used paintings and music on which to base ekphrastic poems, but this week, our inspiration is going to be sculpture. I’ve always believed that poetry uses space in much the same way that sculpture does.

The sculpture above, Spoonbridge and Cherry, is a bit of a head-scratcher that may be seen live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (For a larger view here, click on the image.) This giant spoon and cherry was erected between 1985 and 1988 by artist Claes Oldenburg and his wife, Coosje van Bruggen. It serves as the centerpiece of the Walker Art Center’s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.

Born in Stockholm in 1929, Oldenburg is associated with the Pop Art movement and is known for his oversized replicas of everyday objects and food products. In this sculpture, the spoon weighs 5,800 pounds, and the cherry weighs 1,200 pounds. The cherry’s stem also acts as a fountain that sprays into the pool beneath. The shape of the pool is inspired by the seed of the linden tree (a prominent planting in the garden).


1. Look closely at the picture of Spoonbridge and Cherry above.

2. Think about the sculpture and what it suggests to you.

3. How does the sculpture “speak” to you? To your life? To a specific experience that you’ve had?

4. Notice how the artists created something much larger than life. Think in terms of its lines and contours. Think about the subject matter and what it means to you.

5. Come up with an opening line (that makes the reader want to read more), and then write a poem based (even if only loosely) on this sculpture. The style of the sculpture is Pop Art—maybe you can create a kind of “Pop Poetry” poem. Note: Pop Art was an art movement that began in the United States in the 1950s and peaked during the1960s. It took as its subject matter everyday, standardized, and prosaic iconography in American life. Try using use this sculpture as a springboard for something “pop” of your own!


1. Don’t be afraid to experiment, to “translate” the sculpture into written language, to suggest emotion. Flip into the unexpected, or, find a more “standard” way to tell your “story.”

2. Most importantly, let the artwork direct your thoughts, and let your poem tell you where it wants to go. Stretch in any ways that work.

3. Show, don’t tell.

4.  Move with momentum and a sense of trajectory.

5. Connect, reveal, surprise.

6. Remember that your dismount shouldn’t merely “sum up” the poem. Close with a punch. 

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