Dominic Symes is a poet from Adelaide. His poetry has appeared in Voiceworks, Award Winning Australian Writing (2016), Coldnoon (IND) and is featured in the 2017 Australian Book Review ‘States of Poetry’ series. His criticism has appeared in Cordite. He is currently undertaking a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide.

A ‘Meandering’ Line

The Effect of Indeterminacy in a Gallery Ekphrasis

To develop a meandering poetics specific to a ‘gallery’ ekphrastic poem, this paper examines the performance of the poetic line to create indeterminacy in two ekphrastic works published in 2016; Paul Hetherington’s Gallery of Antique Art and Ken Bolton’s ‘Dark Heart’. Whilst Hetherington’s work traverses a sequence of prose-poetic ‘rooms’ through his notionally ekphrastic gallery, Bolton’s poem is a scattered collage of his gallery experience, evading the traditionally ekphrastic mode of detached contemplation. Both poets bring the timeless properties of artworks in a gallery into the temporal flow of language by allowing for ‘detours’ to rupture the stilled time of the art-objects. Instead of approaching the artwork directly, the poet’s lived experience in the gallery space produces the poem, as an after effect of the poet’s failure to provide a comprehensive translation of the artworks contained within a gallery. Ekphrasis is posited as a creative and interpretive drive experienced by the poet, lived in the presence of an artwork or artworks, performed through the meandering poetic line.