From the Back Nine: Creative collaboration

I discovered a delightful activity this year (although it has been around forever). I took a few poetry workshops where I heard others talk about it. That, of course, now makes me an expert.

It’s called “ekphrastic” poetry. That’s a $10 word for this: look at a piece of art, a painting, a sculpture, a photograph. Write down what you see or feel in it, how it inspires you, what story it starts in your heart or brain. And Bob’s your uncle!

You are on your way to multi-tasking creativity which hasn’t cost you a dime. You will likely amaze yourself. Two of you who may never meet have given birth to a new piece of beauty.

Artists creating together is old business in lyricist/musician/singer circles. But it’s not so common amongst those who still cling to bits of parchment and canvas.

Creative collaboration is freeing, and several art galleries on the Olympic Peninsula host events that poets and artists share. The poems (inspired by landscapes or abstracts or gargoyles or whatever) are invariably emotional, sweet, angry, respectful, fun. They are more often down-to-earth than over-your-head.

It’s an encouraging way to begin a poem, like a therapy group session on the walls and in your notebook. Our community is hugely blessed with so many artists whose work speaks to each other.

I mentioned this on my Facebook page and had a couple interesting responses. A teacher from the west side of Port Angeles wrote, “I had never heard of ekphrastic poetry prior to meeting a special local writer. My students are so wary about anything having to do with poetry. They might find this approach to be a way of making sense of poetry.” I do hope this imaginative teacher gives it a go.

I received another comment from a terrific poet who turned the concept on its head. “What if, instead of poets writing to paintings, painters paint to poems?” That kind of talk can lead to revolution.

In a time when others want to shriek their beliefs at you, creating an ekphrastic poem is a way you can work out for yourself what you really think or feel. Give it a try just for the joy of it. It is sure to make me feel festive long after the mistletoe and poinsettia die.

Linda B. Myers is the author of 10 novels — including “Starting Over Far Away,” released this fall and available at Pacific Mist Books, Port Book and News or on Amazon. You can reach her at