I’m excited to share two pieces Michelle Hansen wrote during an Ekprhastic writing class I gave at the Whidbey Writer’s MFA Program in August. Ekphrasis is writing inspired by another art form, like a painting, photograph or sculpture. Probably the most famous example is John Keat’s, Ode to a Grecian Urn. Instead of an urn, I brought children’s artwork to inspire.
Each student chose a ‘Wanted’ portrait* to write a headline, caption, twitter, haiku or other short form of their choosing. The class had only 35 minutes to write, but what they came up with blew me away!
Copperhead Kynnedy by Michelle Hansen
Wanted: Copperhead Kynnedy for glittering the town. Mrs. Kranket reported a shimmery purple gate. Mr. Bates reported sparkly gold piglets. “I knew it was Copperhead Kynnedy,” said the Sherriff, “‘Cause there was red lipstick on my heifer’s nose, and her tail was made up into a sparkly silver ball.” Kynnedy is still wanted for polka-dotting the door of city hall last year. She is still at large and believed to be armed with weapons of mass bedazzlement. If you see Copperhead Kynnedy, do not approach her, or it may be the last bling you ever see.
Next, Michelle wrote about this picture**
Henry the porcupine climbed the cherry tree and got stuck in the branches. He twisted and turned and finally broke free, landing on the grass with a THUMP. When he stood, blood dripped over his handsome quills.
“Help!” Henry cried. “I’m bleeding.”
He ran into the garden and clammored through the bushes. “Help! Help!”
The yellow rose buds turned crimson as he passed. He scurried over the grass and left stripes on the cat. Henry bounded into Alice’s lap and turned her skirt red.
“Save me!” cried Henry. He shook himself and left red dots on Alice’s sleeves. He left red dots on Alice’s headscarf.
“I am dying!” wept Henry. “My life will end.”
“There, there,” Alice replied. “All is not lost. Roll in the grass and lay under the giant sunflowers. Before they bow their heads tonight, you will be healed.”
So, Henry obeyed. He rolled in the grass and sprawled in the shade of the giant sunflowers, and truth be told, he was sure he died. When he woke, it was dusk. Henry leapt for joy.
“I am healed!” he exclaimed and he hurried home to his mother.
The next spring, a cherry sapling grew beneath the giant sunflowers. Henry called it the healing tree.
*Drawn by third graders from Rena Elementary
**Art from Eurochild. Artwork and Poetry by Kids for Kids, Edited by Eoin Hurley & Kathy D’Arcy: