Baigent Caviar Spoon copy 2

Simon Icarus BAIGENT Caviar Spoon 1995  gold, ebony, mother of pearl, diamond, ruby  0.5cm x 5.5cm x 2.0cm ©Simon Icarus Baigent (Photo by Silvi Glattauer) Collection: Nillumbik Shire Council

If Ekphrastic poetry is the conversation between two pieces of art, EA Horne’s lusciously sensuous words create the perfect conversation with Simon Baigent’s shamelessly decadent work of art.

QUESTIONS FOR A CAVIAR SPOON

gold, ebony, mother of pearl, diamond, ruby:
you lack for nothing, spoon – except use!
too precious for the table, empty in your
arthouse, what is it you miss most?
the slow salt suck
of plump lips,
the tingle and bright pop of 
tongues’ ecstasy,
the lingering kiss of 
brides and kings
or the cry
of the wild sturgeon?
-EA Horne

Ekphrasis singer

Nelle May and the Odyssey Band – comprising singer Nelle May (above), Dylan Smith, Jackson Phelan.

Nillumbik Shire have announced the winners of their inaugural Ekphrasis Award. Music, good food and a little frisson of expectation preceded the announcement.  Then actor Debra Lawrance read the winning poems with such beauty that this audience member was reduced to tears… on more than one occasion.  Words… all so beautifully combined, meaning so much.

Ekphrasis Deborah Lawrence

I recently read that the writer Jeanette Winterson regularly ‘learns’ a new poem.  She reads the chosen poem many times, often in front of the mirror. Her advice…

“But what I always say to people is, look, the language of a poem may seem difficult or even off-putting at first, because it’s quite a complex language and it’s very dense.  The best thing is to always read it out loud.  There’s nothing better than reading out loud to get the sense of something.  And then you’ll stumble over the bits you don’t understand, of course you will, but then when you read them again, it begins to smooth out and make sense. Everything like that should be read out loud; every time I find something new, I read it out loud.   When I’m learning a poem, I do it in front of the mirror, and I’ll tell you something really wierd that happens: the moment you recite a poem in front of the mirror, you are watching your own expression, and you watch yourself change as the poem enters you.  And it’s a good test for anybody to do, because it really happens” Ramona Koval Speaking Volumes Conversations with remarkable writers 2010 Scribe Melbourne Page 363

Reminding me that poems must be read out loud, before the reader really ‘gets’ it.  Guess what I’ve been doing lately…in front of the mirror? Trying to get my tongue around- “the slow salt suck of plump lips, the tingle and bright pop of tongues’ ecstacy.”  with just the right timing, all the while, channelling Debra Lawrance. Give it a try, it’s sort of like yoga for the mind.

In their wisdom, Nillumbik Shire have printed twelve postcards in all, each one with a work of art on one side and the chosen poem on the other. Treasures. My set of the postcards sits on my coffee table, so that every now and again I can revisit them.  I especially love MY P(A)LACE for its evocations of womanhood and motherhood…

Schreiber My Place

Libby SCHREIBER My Place 2012 lino-cut  77cm x 61cm framed  ©Libby Schreiber  Collection: Nillumbik Shire Council

MY P(A)LACE

She crafts her temple in anticipation
clothed with strength and dignity
breathlessly bears the mystifying
who are you?
deep inside
woman
Bulging belly births booties, building blocks, burp
domestic goddess abdicates her throne
water, cries, milk splatters
giver of life 
making me
mother
-Catherine Dinkelmann

Nillumbik Shire’s Huon pine sculpture, The Talisman Seed by Stephen Hughes, inspired the winning poem by Meaghan Bell.

Ekphrasis Talisman Seed

Stephen HUGHES The Talisman Seed c. 80’s Huon Pine 30cm x 25cm diameter © Stephen Hughes (Photo by Silvi Glattauer)  Collection: Nillumbik Shire Council

POLLEN

spiralling out like breath
or the golden mean
greater than zero but not by much
the architectural dispensing of secrets
or spinning out code 
rising through loam and ashes
a husk birthing knowledge
or lips parted for a kiss
it starts small, a microcosm 
the subtle germination 
or geometry of spores
history on the wind
-Meaghan Bell 

I was delighted to hear that with 116 entries this year and an award night attended by 90 people, the Nillumbik Ekphrasis Award will certainly be repeated next year…Next year’s theme, Earth Plus will no doubt reveal some interesting works of art from Nillumbik’s collection. Something to look forward to for lovers of visual arts and poetry.

For more information about the Ekphrasis Awards, check out Nillumbik Shire’s website.

Artworks and poems are published here with the permission of the Nillumbik Shire and the poets.