Marcelle Freiman is Associate Professor in English and Creative Writing at Macquarie University and, as past Chair of AAWP, a member of the AAWP Advisory Board. Her research interests include: creative writing and cognition; ekphrasis; diaspora literatures, and poetry. She has published articles in TEXT, in New Writing: The International Journal of Creative Writing and contributed chapters to Creative Writing: Theory Beyond Practice (eds Brady and Krauth) and The Cambridge Companion to the Sonnet (eds Cousins and Howarth). Her poetry publications are Monkey’s Wedding (1995) and White Lines (Vertical) (2010) and she has published numerous poems in literary journals including Antipodes, Cordite, Mascara Literary Journal, Meanjin, Meniscus, Southerly, TEXT, Transnational Literatures and Westerly.


Ekphrasis as enactment

Towards a poetics of contemporary diaspora practice

This essay emerges as practice-based research generated by my own writing of ekphrastic poetry. It aims to articulate a poetics of diaspora engendered by this practice and its triggers, contexts, dynamics and strategies. In an investigation of questions about ekphrasis raised by literary criticism, the essay considers a network of traditional historical, literary and theoretical approaches, and debates about its validity. It also revisits the sources of ancient ekphrasis in oral delivery and the medieval meditative practices of ekphrasis. Medieval oral and rhetorical reading and delivery focuses on the effect of ekphrasis upon the mind and feelings of the reader or listener, a feature feasibly linked to contemporary ekphrasis as practice, voice and performance. This essay illustrates the emphasis on the workings of creative mind through an example and commentary on the composition of one of my own poems, where the contexts of its writing – of migration, memory, ambivalence and temporal displacement – have significance for the development of a poetics of diaspora practice.