Writing Exercise: musical ekphrasis

This writing prompt is basically a riff on the ekphrasis poems we did in class already, but you’ll be drawing inspiration from a song or musical piece rather than visual artwork. I have come up with a few fragments of poems this way, but have been meaning to officially try this out for a while now.

So you could run with it in a couple of ways, but here are some loose guidelines/suggestions:

  1. Choose a song that has impacted you in some way, either recently or at some point in your past. This could be from any genre, just whatever moves you personally! I have often found myself most inspired to write when listening to pieces that are more instrumental than vocally-based, but depending on the day/my mood/etc this can vary significantly. Just take a minute to think about what feels right for you.
  2. Find a quiet place (could be the library, your room, or another favorite spot), pop in some headphones, and just let your song soak in. You may need to play through it a few times for full effect.
  3. Once you feel situated with your song, pay close attention to what it brings to mind. What type of emotional response does it illicit? Does it call up any distant memories or nostalgia? Are there any specific colors, textures, or other sensory attributes that seem to embody the piece for you? Have a blank page in front of you so you can just jot down whatever thoughts or ideas you may have.
  4. If the piece you choose does happen do have lyrics, you may also consider picking out a word or phrase and incorporating it into your poem.


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