For the final class meeting of the Fall 2013 semester, students in EN3140: Poetry Workshop read poems inspired by artwork and ephemera on display at the Museum of the White Mountains. Earlier in the semester, they visited the museum, chose artwork, and composed their drafts. Poetry professor Liz Ahl always tries to incorporate a gallery visit during the Poetry Workshop, which is offered every fall, but this year’s Museum of the White Mountains visit was a slight departure. “Most years we’ve gone to the Faculty Art show in D&M, but this year (MWM Director) Catherine Amidon invited us to come to the newly opened Museum of the White Mountains, so I thought I’d take advantage of the opportunity to try something new.” In the past, there was no public reading associated with the assignment to write “ekphrastic” poetry (poetry in response to art), but Ahl is considering making it a permanent part from now on.
Student poet Hayden Leith found that the experience of reading her work standing next to the painting that inspired it brought her artistic process “full circle.” Her classmate Jackie Morin had never written a poem based on art before, but found it enjoyable. Olivia Punch found that multiple evenings spent revising her poem for the public reading helped her appreciate both the artwork and the process behind this particular writing assignment. At the end of the reading, students discussed with museum historian Marcia Schmidt Blaine why they chose certain paintings over others “The students did a great job both reading and talking,” Ahl said.