Heights Arts celebrates Poetry Month
Poetry has a way of elevating the meaning of simple words and phrases, while simultaneously allowing readers to create their own interpretations of the art form. The nation’s first-ever youth poet laureate, Amanda Gorman, and her speech at the inauguration of President Joe Biden, reminded the nation of the power of words. April is National Poetry Month, and Heights Arts will present its popular Ekphrastacy: Artists Talk and Poets Respond event in conjunction with its current group and Spotlight exhibitions.
During this program, artists talk about their inspirations and processes for the work on display, and poets respond to the work in poetry they have written, inspired by those works of art. The series title comes from the Greek word “ekphrasis,” meaning the description of a work of art produced as a vivid, dramatic, verbal description of a visual work of art, either real or imagined.
The current exhibition, Group Show 2021, on view at the Heights Arts gallery at 2175 Lee Road, includes paintings, sculptures, and mixed media by artists Julie Friedman, Paula Izydorek, Mark Keffer, Alessandro Ravagnan, and Dante Rodriguez.
In addition, the Spotlight Gallery features artist Bernadette Glorioso’s works, inspired by her time in the Cleveland Metroparks.
Any art is open for interpretation, and can even inspire additional art—as Ekhprastacy curator and Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate Ray McNiece knows well, as one ongoing Heights Arts program features poetry inspired by visual art.
McNiece was chosen as the 10th Cleveland Heights poet laureate in April of 2020 by the Heights Writes Community Team, a group of volunteers passionate and trained in the literary arts. He is one year into a two-year term, and will be presenting periodic poetry events through April of 2022. A core program of Heights Arts, the Cleveland Heights Poet Laureate program was the first locally, and is the longest-running poet laureate program in the state of Ohio. Said McNiece, “Poetry is about connection; connecting with what is essentially human. So, at this particular time when it’s problematic to be in the company of—let alone actually embrace—others, poetry becomes all the more relevant and meaningful as a way of keeping in touch with what makes us human.”
McNiece assumed the poet laureate title amid the pandemic, meaning he had to adapt to changing times, and reach people “where they’re at." He works with the Heights Writes team to choose poets for the Ekphrastacy series, and explained its lasting relevance: “[Poetry is] a way of moving through the world, a bit like a bat sounding and echoing back. But as American poet Archibald MacLeish said, a poem should not mean, but be, so it is the Zen in the moment practice.”
Ekphrastacy will be presented via livestream on April 22, at 7 p.m., and the poems will remain on display at Heights Arts through the end of the exhibition, on May 16.
Ekphrastacy: Artists Talk and Poets Respond is presented four times a year in conjunction with Heights Arts’ group and Spotlight exhibitions. To learn more about Heights Arts poetry programming, visit www.heightsarts.org/heights-writes.
Megan Gallagher's love of the arts fuels her work as Heights Arts' marketing intern. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.