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Ekphrasis and poetry

Kennedy, David


David Kennedy


Gabriele Rippl


The ekphrastic poem, like its close cousin the elegiac poem, is more a mood or method of working than a mode with a set of distinctive, clearly defined characteristics. This chapter aims to complement the chapter on theory by James Heffernan by surveying some features of ekphrastic poetry. To do this, it proposes an ekphrastic canon comprising poems by Keats, Auden and Ashbery. The chapter proposes that the ekphrastic poem is a matter of making judgements and of using the ekphrastic object work as a means of justifying its own existence as a separate work in its own right. The second half of the chapter offers a detailed discussion of Maggie O’Sullivan’s sequence Tonetreks as a way of understanding how this works in practice.


Kennedy, D. (2015). Ekphrasis and poetry. In G. Rippl (Ed.), Handbook of Intermediality (82-91). De Gruyter.

Publication Date 2015
Deposit Date Oct 7, 2016
Publicly Available Date Oct 7, 2016
Journal Handbook of intermediality
Publisher De Gruyter
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Pages 82-91
Series Title Handbooks of English and American studies
Book Title Handbook of Intermediality
Chapter Number 4
ISBN 9783110311075
Keywords Ekphrastic poem, Critical ekphrasis, Ekphrastic encounter, Body, Desire
Public URL
Publisher URL Full details of the published book are available at
Copyright Statement © 2015, Walter de Gruyter GmbH