Ekphrastic poetry vividly describes a scene, a work of art, or in this case, photography. Poets from the North Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA, have been invited to take part in ekphrastic poetry reading hosted by Olympic Peninsula Authors, where they will collaborate on a photography project undertaken by students at Port Angeles High School.
Reflecting on the pandemic, students were asked to share how their lives had changed during and after the pandemic through photos for the exhibition The World on Pause: Youth Perspectives on a Generation – Defining Experience. Through a series of online workshops, students were guided on how to develop their documentary photography skills so that they could share their experiences through photos with a wider audience.
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In a poetry reading taking place at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, 15 poets will read their ekphrastic poems based on interpretations of individual photos from The World on Pause project. Funded by the National Endowment for Arts and Washington State Arts Commission, this is the first exhibition held by students in over a year due to the pandemic.
Alongside their photos, students were also asked to write a short statement, highlighting the thoughts and feelings they’ve tried to convey in their work. In an effort to make the conversation two-sided, there is a space in the gallery for visitors to write messages to the young photographers.
This collaboration came about through the work of Amy McIntyre, a local photographer and teaching artist, and Sarah Jane, the fine arts center gallery and program director. Together, they worked with teachers at Port Angeles High School to involve more than 500 teens in a conversation about their experiences of the Covid-19 Pandemic.
The poetry reading will take place at the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center on 24 February from 17:30-19:00 PST, but attendees have been advised to wrap up warm as the event is outside. Photos from The World on Pause exhibition can also be viewed online in the gallery at The Esther Webster Gallery.