Tuesday 8 July 2008

The Muse in Museums i

Left: the scene of a Rag Day recitation of Homer's Iliad (in Greek), The Quadrangle, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, 1982.

I have long been interested in the relationship between art and literature (and between art and poetry, in particular). I enjoy novels, like The Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier, which develop out of a painting. I love ekphrastic poetry, which draws its inspiration from works of art. I am currently reading Burning Bright, in which Chevalier's characters have a [fictional] encounter with the poet and artist, William Blake.

I am also fascinated by the relationship that can develop between a museum object and a poem. As a Newcastle graduate in Classical Studies (with options in Archaeology), I was delighted to receive a copy of the recent poetry book by Maureen Almond, Recollections (Flambard Press). It contains 28 poems about the Roman items in the Museum of Antiquities at Newcastle University. The museum building is about to close, and the collection will be amalgamated with those from other local institutions to form the Great North Museum. The volume is beautifully produced, with glossy photographs. Almond's poems represent a mixture of formal and more open styles. They help us to appreciate the objects in the light of their historical and social contexts.

P.S. More on ekphrastic poetry ...

No comments: