Self Portrait: Ekphrasis

Writers share many creative qualities and artistic processes with painters. Both are engaged in the difficult endeavor of portraying oneself through art as an artist. Write six hundred words about you as a writer, manipulating your words and sentences like different brush strokes to create an image of how you perceive your artistic self. Be bold. Be thoughtful. Be candid. Self-portraits are rarely flattering. Art is about truth and true artists never spare themselves.

She writes with a heavy hand and a heavy heart. Her words are written in blood, the paper is her soul, scribbles form a bloody mess on the page. Her eyes are hollow, empty, sad: she radiates the enigmatic, her eyes comprise of diamonds with tiny, microscopic cracks, flaws, faults. Perfectly imperfect.

She exudes the unknown. You’ll try your best to figure her out, but she supplies codes that you cannot crack. Her lips move as she re-reads her work, aloud, to her imaginary audience. She pictures herself on the stage in the Richmond pub, the youngest of the crowd, stepping up, wearing all black, taking herself very seriously, reading her poetry to the older upper-classes. Her lips move as if muttering prayer under her breath: her lips have cracks too, she bites them thoughtfully.

Her fingers blithely tap out rhyme schemes, word counts, dancing across the airwaves. Uneven nails, black nail polish, shining, her silver rings clash together as she quickly explores iambic pentameter with her hands, tapping away at her imaginary typewriter (one like Sylvia had).

She is in love with words, madly so. Effluvia, reconnaissance, camaraderie, harbinger, Jurassic, trajectory, acquiescence, convolute, proliferation of discourses. They spring to mind like a Venus flytrap springs from the womb. She has an affair with each word, cheating on others, breaking others’ hearts. The words belong to her, they are her children, she mothers them until they look perfect written in blood on her blank canvas of a soul.

She composes her best work while smoking furiously on a cigarette. She writes in her head then lets it go the second she stubs out the smoke. She fills countless black Moleskine notebooks, aspiring to feel close to Hemingway. She type manically at her laptop, a gift from a loved one, something she cannot possibly afford. She writes on cigarette packets, coffee cups, post-it notes, bus tickets, receipts, arms and hands (sometimes belonging to other people). She writes to survive, to exist, to feel worthy, to feel appreciated, to be heard. She writes because she has to, she has no other outlet. She paints terribly, she sketches worse, she writes like a victim.

People are surprised by her age. They expect older. Or they accept her age, but fail to accept her appearance; she looks about fifteen years of age, not twenty. She writes like a 26 year old, more experienced than her days. She feels regret that she cannot write about motherhood, divorce, death, war, murder, things she has never experienced. She awaits marriage and motherhood to bring new life to her poetry, new tastes, new sensations, new experiences. She wants to travel but does not have the financial means to do so: she would love to be a travel writer.

Her hair is matted with sweat, tears, blood and words. She write ferociously, physically pouring her heart out onto the page that is her soul, writing in her own blood, displaying her masterpieces to the unwittingly receptive public. She craves feedback, attention, focus on her work. She wants fans, she wants followers, admirers of her writing. She wants appreciation.

Her skin crawls with energy, aiming to produce more than the sun. Her scarred arms are covered with ballpoint ideas for new projects, dissertation proposals, poetry sequences, sonnets, features articles, blog posts. Poetic energy literally seeps from her every pore, quick fingers making light work. Her heart is a heavy weight, her lungs are polluted by toxic words that she has spoken with regret, the albatross around her neck has become a faithful companion over many years of following her around.

She dreams, she writes, she hopes, she writes, she exists:
she writes that she hopes that she exists.


  1. You’ve taken my breath away and my heart is racing. Such a clever, dark, honest painting in words. The fact that you taught me a new word – Ekphrasis – and used it so perfectly in the title, is immaterial to the powerful voice of this writing and perfect response to the brief.
    As much as you write about failure in your days, this is a resounding success.

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