A workshop poem

On Saturday I went to a poetry workshop organised by Moor Poets. The tutor was Tamar Yoselof, an inspiring tutor who gave valuable feedback to all.

The title of the workshop was Ekphrasis and we looked closely at several Ekphrastic poems including one of Tamar’s. I never knew that there was a name for the way I use art or photography to write poems.

We had a pile of art postcards to choose from as a writing prompt.

I left with rough notes for the poem below.


Searing heat
no shade allowed
for infidels
I must be content with an outside view
of twice baked cubes and oblongs
black wood and the palest bone-like earth
a hush fit to burst
wake the dead
or call the prayer

a woman glides by
swathed in indigo
followed by her child
someone’s child
a warthog mama follows
followed by her squealing wartlets

I walk to where people huddle
smiling with the hope of a chat
but with foot flicks of sand they’re gone
leaving one elder man who looks as if he’s always been


a sentinel guarding what?

he fixes black eyes on mine
then hisses like a possible snake
if I dare to stay I see
the slow deliberate bend of an elbow
slide of hand to a pocket
to pull out
a Koran



24 thoughts on “A workshop poem

  1. Oh, excellent Gilly! I know I once wrote an ekphrastic poem, but have no recollection of it now…must check my files

  2. Share always. Your poems are gems, with a very distinctive Gilly voice. I love the way your words re-create? express? create? a scene very vividly and people it so richly and with a few strokes. Then of course, there are the threats, and the way you use line breaks and evoke stereotypes and your neat phrases: “palest bonelike earth”; “foot-flicks of sand”; “the slow deliberate bend of elbow”.

    So evocative of landscape and people and fear.

    (I wouldn’t mind the titles of the poems you looked at.)

  3. Amazing Gilly, you are so talented. Love this poem, and all from ‘Jengo’ 🙂! It has encouraged me to re-look at my old man with his thinning thatch!
    It was a lovely day although I was tired. Thank you.

  4. I’ve never heard of ekphrastik poetry but now I’ve looked it up and have learned something new. I love this poem; it’s so evocative of the immigrant experience, from an outsiders view. I love some of your descriptions and how you set “solitary” off on its own. So perfect. I love this idea of using postcards or photographs as prompts for poems. I may have to add this to my poetry prompt page, this type of poem. 🙂

    1. Thanks Cathy, I’ve always used art and my photography to inspire writing, just didn’t know there was s name for it. The tutor on Saturday was discussing known works of art from the major galleries, and the postcards we could choose from were of similar renown.
      I’ve read the first two parts of your novel by the way and will get to finish it soon !

      1. I have used a sculpture and a photograph for inspiration in the past, but I would like to explore using more art as inspiration, Gilly. I like the name of that process. I can’t say enough how much I enjoyed your poem. It is so telling about our fears and the perils faced in the world today.

        You are so nice to read parts of my novel! Especially since there is no guarantee I will ever finish it or it will ever go anywhere. At least I made a start, which is the hardest part! I have that problem with poetry too. Starting is the hard part. 🙂

      1. Doing well. Will be moving next year at the end of this year’s lease in with my daughter and then will try to have built a tiny structure to live in on her property. A different kind of venture for me. I will see my great granddaughters all the time then. Look forward to your writing more when you retire. Take care. 🙂

    1. Aww I don’t know what to say Julie, you’re so kind. I’m only just beginning to see myself as a poet, but I’m trying to accept compliments 🙂

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