Contemporary Poets, the Visual Arts, and Ekphrasis
Prof Hugh Haughton
According to the online Oxford English Dictionary, ekphrasis is now defined as ‘a literary device in which a painting, sculpture, or other work of visual art is described in detail’. My PhD project attempts to understand the poetry of Pascale Petit, George Szirtes, and Tamar Yoseloff in relation to the ekphrastic tradition. I want to suggest that the three contemporary poets demonstrate a critically overlooked theme in modern poetic ekphrasis—describing visual artworks in terms of autobiographical and biographical representation. Using theories of psychoanalysis and life writing, I argue that the three poets build three distinct life narratives in their poetry, where art turns the self or selves of the artist and viewer(s) into object(s). This biographical kind of ekphrasis (which I call ‘bio-ekphrasis’) is, I shall demonstrate, rooted in twentieth-century poetry but takes a new form in the three poets’ works.
I am a Humanities Research Centre Doctoral Fellow and was chosen by Eyewear Publishing as one of the Best New British and Irish Poets in 2017. I have published poems and articles in Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, The Compass Magazine, Eborakon, The Ekphrastic Review, The Shanghai Literary Review, Voice & Verse Poetry Magazine, and elsewhere.