Online internet courses by Call of the Page

Are you interested in a Call of the Page course? We run courses on haiku; tanka; tanka stories/prose; haibun; shahai; and other genres.

Please email Karen or Alan at our joint email address:
We will let you know more about these courses.

Call of the Page (Alan & Karen)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The People of Van Gogh – hybrid writing by Alan Summers

photo©Alan Summers 2019

Ekphrastic hybrid writing by Alan Summers
from a visit to Tate Britain and an exhibition of Vincent van Gogh's paintings

The People of Van Gogh

There's the girl with bunches and her dad's T-shirt
says books for prisoners with only twenty-six people
who can enter the elevator at any one time though 
my melancholy is drawn to “figures on the road”
like prison exercise yards of Cummings and Dore

we mill around

and sometimes Vincent appears as a slow dance
with music both on pause and coded, directing us, somehow
there’s a blue winter hat that becomes a boy's T-shirt
of red-winged birds still unknown to this planet
whose footsteps on mock wood floors
fall between coughs
as two officials gesticulating to each other
without an audience
girls are quiet with their mother
and the polka dots on one is bending air
as close as wheatfields
with hushed tones of two frames creaking
into each other whenever people 
stop looking

the song of the next shift
has words that travel to bare arms, or ankle bones
clicking and knitting their roseate hair
that end up as washing instructions
all lit up by sunflowers

a woman has petals
from her dress

into someone with lycra and a bicycle chain
adorning just one arm that turns into silver
in his eyes someone else’s teeth 
clenches a friend's camera lens
in front of Van Gogh staring back

the camera sighs
knowing another selfie will be done
before he can turn back to wheat
the moon and stars on all our lower arms
sing a tattoo of gratefulness

frayed sun
the knife edge
of canvas

Alan Summers
Publication credit: Blithe Spirit Vol. 29 No. 4 (November 2019) 
editor Caroline Skanne 
Haibun title: The People of Van Gogh   
(Blithe Spirit journal page 51-52)

ekphrastic hybrid writing/poetry

Tate Britain:

photo©Alan Summers 2019

What is ekphrastic writing?
from the Afterword by Alan Summers for Ekphrasis Between Image and Word

When we attempt ekphrastic forays, into the landscape of painting, haiku could be seen as two brushstrokes frozen in mid-air. Or, using another analogy, while attempting to capture the energy of painting, it’s not unlike the techniques made famous in The Matrix movie; freeze frames that an actor moves around, at will, while everyone and everything else is an individual ‘still life,’ or an intimate and suspended panorama.

When I write about a painting through my own poetry I am both telling a story, but also attempting to tell a story, all at the same time. 

[T]ravel the paintings, hear the echoes in between, and tell your own story too. 

Afterword extract from Alan Summers from the book:
Ekphrasis Between Image and Word
our dialogue as haiku poet with art

Details about our next hybrid writing/haibun online course:

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