Since about the mid-twentieth century, feminists and historians have gradually, and, sometimes painfully, worked to restore the voices, images, and contributions of women and reinstating them, incrementally, into history and the literary canon.
While it’s long been understood that women are as instrumental as men in the making and destroying of empires, whether domestic or of a grand scale, their contributions have consistently been relegated to dark corners and back kitchens.
In time, perhaps women’s roles will be as obvious and as representative as those of men, and to that end, I offer today’s prompt, which incorporates two distinct approaches to poetry: ekphrasis and persona.
Ekphrasis, in simple terms, is a response to a piece of artwork. Contemporary poets often stretch this tradition to include popular culture, music, television, movies, and every day objects, in addition to traditional or contemporary art.
Persona, on the other hand, is stepping into another’s shoes and telling a story from their unique perspective. This approach takes a great deal of imagination and is often tweaked to fit a poem’s purpose.
You are probably familiar with the novel, Wicked by Gregory Maguire, which explores the untold stories of Oz’s Wicked Witch of the West, and Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, which reinvents the female subject of Vemeer’s painting of the same title. Both stories respond to existing works of art and both consider the perspective of withheld or otherwise down-played characters to create a compelling story.
For today’s prompt, consider works of art which were created by or feature women. Think expansively and include in your perusal everything from ancient art to modern Hulu favorites. Your piece of art may be a song, a hand crafted item, carefully prepared food, a character from mythology, or even an image as recognizable at the Mona Lisa. Don’t give up too easily; instead trust that you will know the right subject for your poem when you see it.