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Sarah-Jane Crowson 04-25-2022 03:46 AM

Poetry and Image challenge
To celebrate the art forums, here's a Poetry/Image match challenge.

Have you a poem which yearns for an image to accompany it? If so, then the challenge is to either create an image yourself which works with your poem, or find an image that works with your poem and share it.

This isn't a reverse ekphrastic challenge - it's more about you choosing an image that you think adds to your poem in some way. Think about it in the same way that you'd choose cover art for a chapbook or the image accompanying the work in an online journal!

Once you've chosen an image, please post a link to the image to the thread in the art forum, with your poem.

(Note about copyright - if you take from the web, please credit your source and post a link to the image rather taking a screen grab and uploading it. If you want to upload an image into the thread, then there are some great sites out there like pixabay who have beautiful free images - you just need to credit the image holder if required (it tells you by the picture if this is required or not)

John Isbell 04-25-2022 04:17 AM

OK, Sarah-Jane, here's a poem which I feel requires an image like the one I link to. Folks may remember this. My link is from


Rooftop Tango

I danced a tango once at MIT
on some lost rooftop. This was in my prime
and dawn of ease and possibility.
The patient work I’d done – was there a time
for it to flower? I could hardly see
how life can turn. My search for the sublime
might be what brought me on to LSD
so open-eyed. How high can one man climb?
Quite high, I guess. Some trigger in my brain
was jostled, and across the ticking years
it came to fire. We all have our careers
and hope that we can keep them. There is pain
when that must end; we touch, we step apart.
We dance the tango if we have that art.

Sarah-Jane Crowson 04-25-2022 04:24 AM

Yay! Thanks for starting this, John.

I remember your poem - it stands alone nicely without an image but I think the image you've chosen brings out the passion and the intensity in the dance on the rooftop - and brings a sense of passionate youth to the poem which, although it's implicit in the 'MIT' and 'lost rooftop', isn't highlighted as much in the poem as your choice of image.

It's interesting, as there are so many ways you could have gone with the poem - I'd have thought of silhouetted illustration - but that wouldn't have heroed the human dance, the push and pulls of passions quite so much.

(I liked and still like the poem very much, btw)


Jim Moonan 04-25-2022 01:28 PM

Hi Sarah-Jane, Great project!

I will attempt to corral the two and join them here. (I’m oh-so-tempted to pick an image from the great online source Pixabay you’ve shared here and sneak in an ekphrastic, but of course I won’t….:))

I’ve often thought poetry books/poems have the potential to be multi-dimensional. For me, a completely satisfying unit of art would be a poem, an image and music intertwined — with the words being the driving force. (you did something similar here awhile back).

I’ll see what I have that might work and be back... Ideally, they would be facing pages.

This kind of project would also be conducive to calligram poetry.


Sarah-Jane Crowson 04-25-2022 02:27 PM

Thank you Jim!

It is so good to have a fellow explorer at the edges of text and image to work with. I think there's more outside spaces that like this kind of work now, too. Spaces like Sugar House (Sugar Suites) are looking for work that blend text and image (they're print and online but use QR codes in the print to showcase the image/text - very cool way of blending the two).

I love the idea of calligram poetry (I am not great at making calligram poetry - I don't think that I have the right kind of mind for it - but I love reading/engaging with it)

I'm now very excited to find out what you come up with!

(maybe we can do a cross-forum ekphrastic challenge later or some kind of bouncing of words and text, as that is exciting too)

Ann Drysdale 04-25-2022 02:30 PM

Based on what we did on D&A perhaps?

Sarah-Jane Crowson 04-25-2022 02:34 PM


Originally Posted by Ann Drysdale (Post 478713)
Based on what we did on D&A perhaps?

That's exactly what I was thinking : )

- for the first challenge I wanted to be very low-stakes though, to encourage people to feel comfortable and get involved. But I bet we could do some amazing collaborative work.

Any thoughts you have as to what you think would work would be much appreciated!


Jim Moonan 04-26-2022 11:10 AM

Sunken Poems
Sunken Poem (The Tank)

Everything we do is music. —John Cage

Water Walk

Silent Evolution

I spend many hours these days in The Tank, plunging in to sate my need to be refreshed in word waters. It is always something of a fishing expedition, but often enough I come away enlightened; and fishing is a noble profession—especially in The Tank, where words swim in schools that stream meaning beyond words.Sometimes I catch one and nourish myself with it, even, at times, use it to become a fish! I sometimes spend hours inside The Tank when I should be elsewhere. There are things to do in the garden, errands to run, visits to make, grandchildren to be with, causes to serve that I care about; there’s cooking to be done, drowsing to be done, rabbit holes to hop down. But I find, for the time being at least, I often need to go into The Tank to breathe. I need it. Need it.

Sometimes I like to venture down to the bottom rung of the ladder to give one last read to a sunken poem that has edged to the drain. I like to do that. Sink or soar? I think to myself, like I’m the sole arbiter of its destiny. I take one last look at a poem I’ve long moved on from, just to see if, in the light of the circumstances, it might deserve to bubble back up to the top; here in the Tank one has the power to do so. I spend many hours these days in the Tank.

I toss this overboard. It slowly dips. (In my imagination there is an atoll that embraces immersed words forming necklaces of poems, strings of green seeking light. There is a reef off Isla Mujeres where an underwater world of statuary passes time in silent evolution. They speak in silence. Nothing floats. They sink into sediment on their way back to the stars, always headed home.)

I hope my small offerings to The Tank find oxygen and float for a time before sinking, as all do, back into the sediment of stars.


I spend many hours these days in the Eratosphere, plunging in to sate my need to be refreshed in poetic waters. It is always something of a fishing expedition, but often enough I come away enlightened; and fishing is a noble profession—especially in the metaphorical sense. I while away for hours when I have obligations elsewhere — in the garden, on the road running errands, making visits, caring for grandchildren, being of service to causes I care about, cooking, sleeping, hopping down rabbit holes. But I find, for the time being at least, I often need to go into the Eratosphere to breathe.

Sometimes I like to venture down to the bottom rung of the ladder on a board to give one last read to a poem that has sunk to the precipice. I like to do that. Sink or soar? I think to myself, like I’m the sole arbiter of its destiny. I take one last look at a poem I’ve long moved on from, just to see if, in the light of the dire circumstances, it might deserve to be bumped back up to the top; that I might see something not spotted before that I feel compelled to comment on, even at this late, final hour — at least here in the Eratosphere one has the power to do so. Does the poem, now dangling by a string, I think to myself, deserve one more ride to the top, and down again in the swift waters to inevitable oblivion? Like this, which I am writing now, might be worthy of when its time comes down to nearly nothing, and it is dangling, ready to go? I spend many days these days in the Eratosphere.

I will not likely bother to clean this up before posting it somewhere there.
Perhaps it is a prose poem that would thrive on the Non-Metrical Board.
Maybe it is more suited to the obscure Board of Fiction where prose languishes in an echo chamber .
Perhaps, now that the Art Boards have been resurrected, I could find a way to place this there.

In my imagination there is a beautiful atoll somewhere teeming with life. I want this to go there. So it will go.

Off the coast of Isla Mujeres there is an underwater reef of statuary that passes time in silent evolution.
Nothing floats.
We sink into sediment.
We soar into stars.

Changed word color to white: Eratosphere

Jim Moonan 04-26-2022 11:23 AM

Ideally, I would have liked an image to appear at the top, beneath the title. I couldn't get it to link to the page, so the closest I could come was to post the Youtube video of the underwater museum. (I once braved scuba gear and dived to see it and am glad I did.)

The specific image I selected from the website to be the visible graphic representation of this prose poem is here. Look for the one entitled "Silent Evolution".


Sarah-Jane Crowson 04-26-2022 02:16 PM

Jim, thank you so much for posting.

I love how it speaks to me directly - the Sphere as an island, a space we all inhabit. And within that I love the ‘obscure board of Fiction, where prose languishes in an echo chamber’. That sentence is superb writing, I think.

I love how your geographer’s description of a digital space allows the geographer agency - agency in saving poems, or not, from drowning. I like the narrator’s description of themselves, too, particularly the ‘rabbit holes’ and how this works with the image - reading the poem with the image brings an entirely new dimension to the poem.

For me, the image is ambiguous - it is aesthetically lovely, but it is also ‘The Tempest’ like - rich and strange - half-real, half not. The video works with the poem to both suggest the Eratosphere as a magical, transformed place, but also as a submerged, half-dead space. The video adds another dimension again - it shares a kind of geological dreamscape, a striving to reinvent the more mundane world.

The poem beneath the prose-poem (the form reminds me of a haibun, - the longer descriptive passage and the short imagistic poem) is beautiful - and it works with the short imagistic poem to describe the picture but also point out, very concisely, how the image and art is a wonderful metaphor for humanity.

Formative points (I will always have formative points, it is in my nature) for me would be to detach the prose poem from the specific place of the ‘Sphere and consider, instead, making it more general a title - an imaginary planet or place.

I’d also consider centre-indenting the prose poem parts, perhaps so they squarely fill the lines and echo that sense of contrast with the imagistic poem.

And, honestly, I’d contact the artist and start a collaborative conversation, at the very least see if you can use the image you've chosen to send off as an ekphrastic piece, as the dimensions of art, video documentary, prose poem and imagistic poem are exciting, and completely rich and strange. Kudos.

(Forget to say 'wow' that you dived to see it too, but that's a very non-poetic aside!)

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