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.
The Effect of Indeterminacy in a Gallery Ekphrasis