Ekphrasis (Greek for "to speak out")

a literary device in which a work of art, usually visual art, inspires a piece of poetry or prose. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the writer may amplify and expand its meaning through poetry, prose, or some form of reflective writing.

Thur. May 30, 2024
| 5:30-7pm

La Galería del Pueblo
209 Central St. | Central Falls, RI 02863

April 2024 visual art and writing prompt: There was an open invitation to write poetry or short prose (creative nonfiction, short fiction, personal essay or monologue). Participants were asked to research the artwork or artist (Viva La Vida by Frida Kahlo) and use what they discover to write. Submissions appear below.
Frida y la Sandía by Valerie Geller ⬩ @elvaleriemusic
I want to know what she saw in las sandías,
Vivid and visceral, red flesh and juice,
Hard shell, semillas.

A fruit is a living thing, and self-perpetuating - another can grow from its own seed.

Maybe she liked the way that fruit can grow and change independently, like loose bananas ripening. But a watermelon is connected to its roots by a vine, a source of life, a living thing.

I read that she finished this painting just before she died

and I think she was connected to this life,

Con ambas fuerzas reconocidas

El dolor y la alegría

Aún herida, una artista

Maybe she appreciated those feelings in all their forms,

After all, they’re who we are.

Una sandía viva

Muy parecida a la vida de Frida.

Como La Palma Inspired by Frida Kahlo • Gwen Vargas ➤
Eres verde como las hojas de las palmas del caribe
Protectora como torre fuerte

Has sentido vientos capaz de
quebrantar espíritu fieles Menos el

Tus raíces han probado aguas salada
Y tu tronco dolor

Mi querida madre, pensabas que necesitaba una palma compañera
para darte sombra Sin darte de cuenta que eras más alta, y la
sombra no te convenía

Que por tan seca quefuese la arena
Tu le dabas de beber
Con tu agua dulce de coco

Todas la olas llegan a su destino y luego a su fin
Como el amor crudo y traicionero
Con dolor en tu alma Dejo de existir

Desde entonces,
Le lloras al mar Y te
postra ante la luna,
Mientras ella te dice:

Quiero que sigas recolectando fragmentos del sol
Como Io hacía con la alegría cuando eras niña
Cuando el amor de tu vida Io eras tu

Quiero que tus semillas vean elfruto
De Io que produce el verano
Y aun las lágrimas de la lluvia

Quiero que sigas bailando de lado a lado
No quiero que las aves dejen de cantar sobre ti

Mas que nada
Quiero que gires con la misma intensidad de la tierra
Hacia una vida llena,
Con muchos cocos
Y hojas verde.
Writing prompt: Viva La Vida by Frida Kahlo
Stacks Image 170403
Viva La Vida [after Frida Kahlo] by Louie
A breath from an artist can always be art. The final one is no exception.

Air no longer coloring inside the lines of this vessel that once knew: pain is the seed of beauty, and browning flesh isn't always rotten.

Funny how we're both red when sliced open, oxygen sitting nervously, cautiously greeting a new surface, unsure if it will be welcomed or ridiculed for simply existing.

This life at its most vulnerable, dying for me, am I dying for a purpose too? Or maybe my seeds will be shamed 'cus unlike others, instead of fruit,

I dreamed of being air.

Viva La Vida por Denise Meza

Viva la vida porque todo se acaba,
Viva la vida todo es efímero y bello,
Viva la vida porque aunque la fruta se pudra
Y tu te vallas,
La dulzura y el bailado nadie nos los quita
Ni la muerte, ni el capitalismo
Ni el río, o las lluvias,
Ni mucho menos los gringos

Thur. February 29, 2024 | 5:30-7pm

Below are the selected pieces submitted by five writers who used the visual art and writing prompt (pictured here) to write poetry and short creative prose. Two writers came in person for a Live Reading followed by discussion at our monthly MeetUp.

A short dialogue of different lived moments that happen in the bed throughout our lives ➤
"I have to get up for work".
"Stay in bed with me a little bit longer."
"I have to go, I can't be late again, I'll see you later, te amo."

"It's so cold, get in bed with me and keep me warm".
"Okay I will, oh my God your hands and feet are freezing don't put them on me!".
"Hahaha but you're so warm."

"Stay in bed you're sick, do you want me to get you some soup?".
"I hate being in bed all day but I do feel terrible, can you make sure to make it extra spicy
"Anything for you, amor."

"I love you, goodnight".
" Te amó también."

"We can talk about this tomorrow morning".
"We won't, you're just avoiding the conversation".
"I don't wanna fight right now, I need to go to sleep".
"Night then".

"You're so sexy".
"You're so amazing."

“Can you believe my boss is asking for me to do extra work without more pay?”.
“Yeah fuck that, tell em to pay up or you're not doing it”.
“¡Que viva la revolución!”
“Siempre será mi comandante”.

*Over the phone*
“Te extraño mucho”.
“I'm sorry…”

— David Coreas

Grandma was finally laid to rest after long years of fighting cancer ➤
Grandma was finally laid to rest after long years of fighting cancer, guess we can’t be winners always. It was a long busy day and I just couldn’t wait to get over it, the fact that granny was forever gone beyond my reach, no more late night granny-daughter moments, no more free brunches and free squeezed orange juice ever chilled and waiting, numbed my emotions.

Exhausted and worn out!
Surely there’ll be an end to the endless toil of the day, the night!
Weary and famished, I lay my head in rest and drifted to a place beyond the clouds, somewhere dreamy and blissful.
Somewhere beyond my imaginations, a place where only the breathless journey to.

A place of thousand tomorrows, for here there’s no day or month, just an endless cycle of forevers.
A place of nothingness and everythingness. A place of light so brighter, the eyes can’t withstand the shine.
Still floating in clouds, I heard a loud bang and instantly I was back in my room, drenched in sweat and wondering what I just saw.

No one told me told me that it would hurt so much or that the ache would be unbearable but I remember her last days and I smile.

Grandma never looked more happy and blissful, though mostly tired, she seemed to have a surge of strength that stemmed from within her, I could feel it in how she received her prognosis report in every hospital visit or how she always smiled and wiped off stray tears from my eyes, each time I was overwhelmed.
Grandma surely wanted us to celebrate her passing, to her it was a passage to forever in the land of happiness and no pain or sadness or cancer.

I can remember Grandma reminding me how beauty erupted from ashes and life came from death and decay…

And at the end of the day, when the toil of life has ceased and with its bustling.
When the best of us is weary and strength a forgotten concept.
When we lay down our heads in exhaustion with hope that we sleep on, for we have seen an endless cycle of winter and summer and autumn and fresh spring.

At the end of the day when night is blissful and the best of us is long gone and instead of our flawless beauty are bones lacking ligaments and flesh.

At the end of the day, when in peace we shut our eyes and to a glorious land we transit to.
When the remains of our body still produces beauty.
When out of dead and decay springs forth life with a breathtaking beauty.

At the end of the day, this is the proposed end of every breath, celebrate it!
Grandma held onto this viewpoint, until she went far beyond the clouds

— Chiamaka Okpara

El sueño y la realidad son los mismos ➤
Dreaming and our reality are interconnected through our ability to unconsciously realize our desires. To dream is to be human and to be human means to deal with the reality which we are given, which is death.

Mis sueños caminan mano y mano con la muerte como una amante.

My dreams yearn to return to the dust at times, a reality where the suffering does not exist, where I do not exist. A familiarity of where I once was, before I knew, before I was awake.

We cannot dream of death when its pervasiveness is everywhere, you cannot ignore it, you must realize it is you and you can only distract yourself from that dream for so long. That is reality.

Y nuestra realidad es una experiencia colectiva.

A veces pienso que sueno de otra vida, otra experiencia colectiva, de una realidad donde mis esperanzas fluyen como agua en un río. There are times I think Frida would have been happier as a person forgotten in history, as another person who lived and died. Not to turn into the idol of consumption, her likeness for sale, for the sake of making profits. This was her dream and it meant the death of capitalism. That is the reality she is dead and everything made in her image is dead as well.

Los ídolos falsos no dan vida, no suenan, están muertos.

Mi vida es mi sueño, y ser vivo es el sueño de nuestra realidad.

Algo que yo quiero, amo a quien me dé la gana. Y lloro por todos que sufran y no sepan de sus sueños, de nuestra realidad, de sus vidas y lo corto que son. Hay gente que no duermen solo sueñan.

If you ask me what my dreams are now at this age, it's to live in love, to laugh until I cry and sing until my heart is full. To cry and cry until the salt in my tears return to the earth. That is my dream, to live until I die.

— David Coreas

Writing prompt: El Sueño (The Dream), by Frida Kahlo
Stacks Image 170506
Casa Azul | A prose-poem in five parts written from the perspective of the home of Frida Kahlo ➤
Part 1. The Street
We first know you as an shouting infant, for you are born within our walls. In these days many people hurry around the street corner where our walls and windows and roofs meet the earth of the city. The streets are lined with ficus trees and jacaranda, and the people carried baskets laden with fruit, with ears of corn still in their husks, with pots and tools and paint. You take your first breath in a whitewashed room filled with your family. Your sisters gather. Your father weeps. And you, Frida, you shout so loud they hear you on the street.

At the corner of Londres and Allende, our gates open to the downpour of summer’s afternoon rain. The old man waiting on the tiled stairs takes the news with him. Before long, everyone on the narrow, leafy streets of Coyoacán knew of your arrival. Your family is spoken of in the mercado and in the zócalo. But you, Frida, you will soon find your place in the world that swirls around you. You, Frida, who say, “Nobody is separate from anybody else. Everything is all, and one.”

Part 2. The Garden
We see you now in the courtyard, surrounded by birds and plants. The monkey watches you from the swaying tree. So do the ancient clay figures you rescued from the scorched earth, statues shaped by small brown hands long before Cortés and his men began to drain the salty lake that was once our home—for yes, the clay of our walls was lifted from the silt of the old lake held in the ancient volcano’s belly. You built a small pyramid in the garden to hold these statues and their memories. The water-fountain pools around it, holding your reflection.

You recline your small light limbs on a padded chair, your feet lifted, your eyes to the sky. Your young body has been broken once, and then again, first by disease, then by terrible accident, but your dark eyes are still bright, bold, terrifying and beautiful.

You, Frida, who whisper to yourself within our walls when you are left alone in your wheelchair, surrounded by parakeet chatter and dahlia bloom but no human to hear. You, Frida, who say, “I paint the flowers so they will not die.”

Part 3. The Studio
What is here with us? Your paints, and more paints, and brushes, and every small bead and feather and figurine that has caught your eye. Everything on low tables, easily within your reach. The door from your studio opens to your bedroom, this is your private sphere. In other rooms, men and women talk of revolution and you lead them in it, always so ready to throw off your chains. But you cannot march or run or fight, and so you come to this room to paint when the others leave. Here you make the revolution your own.

You, Frida, who say, “I paint self-portraits because I am so often alone, because I am the person I know best.”

Part 4. The Lover
You call him Diego, you call him mi amor, you call him panzón, you call him, sometimes, husband. At first he is
a visitor, a famous painter, you whisper to your family, he’s coming to look at my art. He comes again and again. Then he takes you away with him. For many years, our walls are empty of your bright spirit. But you return. You bring your man, you bring many others with you. You call me “home” again. Your beloved father dies and you paint our walls bright cobalt blue in defiance of your grief. Diego carries you up and down our stairs. You fill our rooms with paintings of your face. All over you hang your lace shawls and long skirts and huipil.

When he is here, Diego touches your things gently, touches you gently, sometimes. Sometimes you shout and he shouts, you weep and he weeps. But then you, Frida, you say to him, “My Diego, mirror of the night. There are waves between our hands. You are the one who captures color. I am the one who gives color.”

Part 5. The Bedroom
Your narrow bed. Your stacks of books. Your tasseled lamps. Your paints and brushes on the nightstand. The bed’s four pillars surround your shrinking body. On difficult days, you rise to dress and then wear your finery back to bed. On your back, your hair full of flowers, your bed full of lace, your body full of pain. Your easel made with special joints to bend and hold you in your bed.

You took your first breath inside our walls and so you take your last.

You, Frida, who told us: “What do I need feet for when I have wings to fly?”

— Lucia Retta

The Dream ➤
I closed my eyes and saw a barrel of kept dreams in a stream of forgetfulness
I grabbed a rod and brought it to the edge
And like the burning bush I was drawn to it.

Splendors of vivid imagery forced its way through the wooden cracks
And I could not tell what was inside
But I heard memories

I heard the cry of newborn and the cry of a grandfather mourning his grandchild
I felt the joy of stepping on foreign safe land and the heartbreak of not being safe in your own land
I felt the passion of artists painting a new world with each stroke and each word
I felt the bondage of doubt from believers who cannot be free from themselves to dream

Who have made an idol of doubt and fear and disappointment
Who have allowed the rumblings of humanity to bury their child like wonder

When did you stop believing that you are a miracle?
Did you know that the world got a little darker the night you tucked away your dreams?
That a plan for a better future was not only a future for you but for generations to come
That there is seed of talent that you have buried too deep to see it bloom and so now it just bleeds

Child, how are you doing?
It’s be a while since I’ve seen joy in your smile
When was the last time hope greeted you in the morning?
And fulfillment rested with you at night
Like the barrel of kept dreams
When will you stop streaming in a sea of forgetfulness?

When will you let the spirit of vida hovers over your waters
Its splendor - vivid imageries to the memories
Set to remind you that YOU are that child in the barrel being drawn out of the shallow
That you cannot truly dream outside beyond it unless you’re dreaming broken dreams.

I closed my eyes saw a barrel of kept dreams being drawn from a stream of forgetfulness into
Like the burning bush I was met with God
the vivid imageries full of memories brought life in a world
that needed me
to dream beyond
Its brokenness.

— Gwen Vargas

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