Lorette C. Luzajic is a Toronto based artist, writer, and editor. Her review focuses solely on writing inspired by art and accepts submissions during alternating months beginning in January. With a passion for art history and poetry, combined with a Bachelor of Applied Arts in Journalism and a driving force to create, Luzajic has a knack for finding “love and death…the sacred and inane…the absurdity and beauty in all things.” She is a well-versed explorer of rabbit holes and the human imagination, and she invites the curious along to discover their own adventures without end.
Broadkill Review: The Ekphrastic Review just celebrated its fourth year of publication in July. What drove you start it?
Lorette C. Luzajic: I’m a visual artist and I’ve been writing since I could read as well. I wanted to create a place for more poetry in my life, not just my overstocked bookshelves but connected to the world in a meaningful way. I’m also passionate about art history and though I feel edified as an introvert going to galleries and experiencing art solo, it seemed like I could connect these dots out there on social media, where perhaps others of like mind would stumble. Writing about art and using art to inspire and expand my own poetry was essential to my imagination, and I thought ekphrastic writing was a good niche that brought these things together. Understand that I didn’t have any intention of becoming The Ekphrastic Review. Originally my site was called “Ekphrastic: writing on art and art on writing” and was a smattering of blog posts collecting ekphrastic poems together for my own enjoyment. I thought I’d put it out there for anyone who wanted to add their ekphrastic work, see what I would get. I had no idea there were so many people doing this, and suddenly I was in a position where I had to turn my hobby into something more structured. I was meeting amazing poets from all over the world, and together we have created this beautiful thing.
BKR: The word “ekphrasis” in the Greek means description, but ekphrastic writing is so much more than that. More than analogy, more than mimesis, more than transferring or translating from one artistic medium to another. Can you speak to the “more” of ekphrasis?
LCL: We have to understand the context of things to see the big picture. We are so lucky today to have social media and technology, but once upon a time, if you saw an artifact or painting, your colleagues would not see it. You would describe it for them as best you could. You wouldn’t even have a picture of your mother to keep after she was gone. So the fact that old writing is so descriptive makes more sense in this context. We have a frame of reference today to most objects and artworks and what cities or people look like somewhere else. So ekphrasis wasn’t meant to be limiting, it existed to go beyond the limits of the day.
That said, I’m not much of a literalist, and my own loose definition of ekphrastic is “writing inspired by art.” While some writers have their own preferences, I don’t think the poem necessarily has to even have anything to do with the painting in a recognizable sense. It might talk about the story of the art or artist, but it might ignite a memory or trigger invention independent of the intention of the artwork. The more for me is the expansion of the human imagination and our writing through the imagination and depiction of another human. They may be related more intimately, but it might just be a spark.
BKR: Oftentimes, writers are driven by obsessions and compulsions. They are likely to be inspired by visual artists who speak to these forces, making ekphrastic writing a cathartic avenue for them. What are some compulsions you would advise writers to resist when diving into ekphrasis for the first time? Alternately what are some compulsions you’d advise them to embrace?
LCL: We can make great use of our thirst for drama and gossip through art and through writing. That’s what all the arts are, when you think of it, big dramas about jealousy and forbidden love and grief and vengeful gods and obstacles for the common man. Opera, ballet, literature- we thrive on these kinds of storie