Towards Black Ekphrasis

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So what is black ekphrasis? Being both artist and poet - I am fascinated by how blackness is pictured by both artists and poets. Researching black ekphrasis has involved gathering and sifting poems in an organic fashion, which, as there are relatively few examples, is not as unsystematic as it might at first appear.
This text takes a two-pronged approach to analysis and discusses three key and distinct examples of contemporary black ekphrasis in tandem with the images that inspired them. The poems are Terrance Hayes’ ‘Wigphrastic’. Robin Coste Lewis’ ‘Wilde Woman of Aiken’ and Vanessa Onwuemezi’s ‘This is How You Walk Through Water’. This leads into a comparison of the black ekphrases of Rita Dove and myself from Christian Schad's 'Rasha and Agosta' painting.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Poetry
EditorsLuke Allan
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2022


  • poetry
  • poetic representation
  • Blackness
  • ekphrasis
  • literary form
  • Art Writing
  • art, design and cultural history


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