Words & Images

24 JUNE 2017


  1. Words, especially poems often carry a partially concealed subtext, sometimes in ambiguity and layers of meaning.  Accompanying pictures may reduce the richness of this even though they may also add meaning to the whole experience. In the case of Sue’s extract from her novel, the pictures led the listener away from the meanings in the words.  This enabled us to focus on this problem early in the day.
  2. Pictures are so often much more immediate than words.  If you look at a picture you can hardly fail to see something in it.  If you look at a poem, you may not get anything from it at all.  Readers have to work harder with words.
  3. Where words and pictures are combined into an integrated whole (Ama’s books and my garden book), one approach is to limit the number of words so that they convey a few simple ideas.  It is also possible to play about with how words are read:  whether they are read in a sequence, whether all words are read etc.  But just the time taken to read, limits how far ideas can be developed through words without drawing the reader away from the images.
  4. With ekphrastic poetry we agreed it was sometimes better to be able to see the picture and sometimes not.  I find it interesting to speculate why this should be so.   I suggested a classification of ekphrastic poetry based on the distance the poet has travelled from the picture.  Perhaps the further the distance, the less need for the reader to see the picture.
  5. I think Paul’s description of his father lying on the floor and eating a meal shows how exciting it is for the reader to form his or her own mind’s eye picture.  The presentation of an image such as a photograph would have spoiled this effect.
  6. I think Morag’s sequence of photographs and poems and my garden book showed how pictures can track the same subject over time and words can fly off from this creating a depth in each particular present.  I would like to develop this idea further.

Thank you , Sue , for putting so much energy , time and thought into organizing this workshop.

SG  27/6/17


Sarah Gregory’s project had me fascinated from the moment I read about it: and the results that she shared with us in February were totally beguiling – the visual poem taking on layers of feeling and meaning that the verbal poem (if I may use those rather clumsy contrastive terms) could only imply. I also liked the way Sarah gave us several variants of the poster, to see which visual effects worked for different people. I’d recently spent a few days’ holiday in a (rather luxurious) cabin on the shingle at Dungeness – a bleak and wondrous stretch of shoreline on the edge of south-east Kent, where the writer and film-maker Derek Jarman lived. It is his ‘shack’, with its bright yellow window- and door-frames that my poem briefly refers to. I wrote the poem first as a verbal poem, but then wanted so much to try my hand at what Sarah’s work vividly accomplishes. So I re-wrote it – using only what Word makes possible – as what you see here. Very much a first foray – but I found it exciting to do; and the visualising process has fed back into a redraft  of the verbal poem. So huge thanks to Sarah G…

Shack (Lesley S)

Lesley Saunders : Shack


Stalbridge Street