In Memory of Judy Harvey

Dear Ekphrasians:

Thank you for coming together and pouring out your love for the Harvey family and for all of us who are friends of Judy’s at this hard time while we mourn her passing and celebrate her loving life. I encourage you to use this page to post works that memorialize her or that express your grief. Over the next few weeks and months, perhaps you can find it in your heart to make a poem, story, song, painting, drawing, or something else to honor Judy’s beautiful friendship and loving life.

Here is my poem. I apologize that it is angry: that is the stage of grief I am in now. I know I will move on, and I hope that I will be able to write something that spends more time lingering on my much I love Judy and what a wonderful friend she was to me.


Grief is a Lion that Lies in Wait

Grief, a lion sharpening his claws,
lies purring at my light-foot leaping mind
and memories that squeak and scamper by—
to pounce upon me when I dare to pause.
I hear him growl when I say your name.
I feel his tail lash when I have to speak
about the way you died: the shock, the shame.
When I see your smile, he bares his teeth.

Yet you were gentle, soft, and sweet:
a slender-boned gazelle, a tender mouse,
the nursemaid of the pride, the cubs’ retreat,
a strength for woes, a den made safe for doubts.

O Judy, little lioness of joy:
How could you turn from comfort to destroy?

—Sørina Higgins


An Invitation to a reading of “Rifton”

Dear Ekphrasians:

You are invited to attend a staged reading of the play RIFTON  by Sharon Gerdes, read by members of Players of the Stage. The stage will be cleared and set up as the set in the Diner might actually look. This will allow the readers to experiment with blocking, and it will give the playwright a greater sense of the structure of the play.

at-the-dinerFebruary 19th, 7:00 pm
Living Hope Presbyterian Church, 330 Schantz Road, Allentown

You are all invited to participate!

“Tulips” by Sharon Gerdes


Today’s post is by Sharon Gerdes, about the above triptych, “Tulips.”

Working on these three paintings over the last three years has been a challenge, to put it mildly. This project started out as a triptych, but after completing the middle painting twice, once for me and one for a friend as her wedding present, I was sufficiently bored of the same tree branches and leaves. I fully intended to never paint the first and last pictures. Unfortunately, my husband was rather fond of them and wanted a complete set. For his sake, I pushed on, very slowly, often allowing myself to get distracted by other projects to delay the inevitable boredom of the same branches and leaves.

I’m glad I pushed through the difficulties of the project. One of the biggest issues for me as a painter is that I have so little time to devote to painting that once I get around to pouring out paint and picking up the brush I have trouble remembering how to the mix the colors, how to make the lines… in short, how to paint! Often when I would find an hour or two to devote to painting, I would not accomplish anything, because I spent so much time repainting the same things trying to remember how in the world it worked!

The other trouble was the length of time separating the pieces meant that the style is somewhat different in each piece. I used to worry that I was going to have to repaint all of them to match stylistically, and perhaps I should. There are things about each painting that I love, and things that I dislike, and things that I’m embarrassed by, but they are what they are: a triptych revealing my struggle and my progression as a painter.

Finishing the last painting last Saturday was a relief, but also bittersweet as that will probably be my last painting for a long time. As I’ve worked on developing my skill outside of college, I’ve been forced to come to the realization that I am better at drawing than painting, both in talent, skill, and in the time available to me. One day, I may have the opportunity to pick up painting again. Until then, I will draw as much as I’m able and enjoy the paintings I have.

February Meeting Report

On Tuesday evening, we eccentric Ekphrasians gathered in the wild world of Wegman’s. It was a glorious meeting. While the skies froze outside, we heated things up there in the cafe with our readings, performance, talk, and laughter.

First, Jeff Harvey started us off by imitating Andrew Stirling MacDonald’s approach to 2015: he shared a list of ambitious creative writing goals for the next 12 months or so.

spitfireThen Marian Barshinger showed her very great confidence by performing a dramatic monologue right there in the grocery store! She’s taking a course in Acting for the Camera, so her focus in this piece was on facial expressions and voice, rather than blocking or gesture. She chose a speech from The Spitfire Grill: a heart-rending narrative of abuse. She performed it very powerfully, with depths of expression and serious focus.

Next Betsy Gahman read a revised chapter of her novel Dragonhoard. This novel is a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale, and in her version, the Beast is a dragon. In what we heard on Tuesday evening, our narrative-perspective character finds himself transformed into a dragon. Betsy’s revision goal was to get into the physicality of dragonness, and she achieved this admirably.dragon_symbol

A performance of another kind followed: a reading of of a scene from Sharon Gerdes’s play Rifton. This is a lively, funny, thoughtful family and small-town drama. It is really coming to life as she reworks it, deepening the relationships and exploring the pain of misunderstanding.

Following this reading, Eric Muller of Hand-in-Hand artworks shared more of his amazing drawings! It is a huge blessing to have a professional artist in our midst. He showed us the final, colorized version of a book cover he has recently created, plus several original portraits of U.S. Presidents for Pastime cards.eric

Switching to creative nonfiction prose, Carl Hoffmeyer shared a really gritty tale of torture–with a surprising historical twist. Carl has a gorgeous reading voice and a masterful command of narrative pacing, so his reading is always a supreme pleasure.

Continuing with our successful streak, Richard Berrigan honored us with the first few pages of his new comic book, starring the same characters from his ongoing Jack Windsword world. His style is lively and active, with exciting plotlines and mythic figures.

Then there was more fiction: a back-story chapter from Earl Pape to go with his dwarf-human saga. This was an account of a battle between minotaurs and their mysterious opponents.

We have a new member of the group, Devon, and she graced us with a piece of tragic creative nonfiction. We hope to hear more from her in the near future!

Since we still had more time, we got to hear yet another scene from Sharon’s Rifton and yet another of Carl’s gripping stories. This was an unforgettable tale of dinosaurs in the backyard!!

Do join us sometime with your own work to share.


Meeting postponed

Tonight’s meeting is CANCELLED.
The worst weather is supposed to occur right around when we would be on the roads–6:00ish–when all this slush turns to ice. I do not want to be responsible for anybody getting hurt!
Let’s meet TOMORROW NIGHT, Tuesday, Feb 3rd, for a little make-up meeting among those who can. I’ll be at Wegman’s on Tilghman Street in Allentown, so come around 6:00 to share some work. Come if you can!
We will postpone the discussion about the quality of a novel until next month.

Under the Mercy,
Sørina Higgins

Aakroveil – a group reading of Marian B’s Novel

unnamedThe second weekend of this year, a group of creative friends gathered together to read through Marian B’s fantasy novel for the first time, as a group. The group consisted of many of the Ekphrasis faithful, as well as some auxilliary members who’ve come to occasional events.

We were hosted by Elaine S in her beautiful home on the outskirts of Kutztown, Pennsylvania. We arrived prepared with food for the weekend, comfy clothes and blankets for long reading sessions (with a fireplace roaring, no less!) and various phones, tablets, and laptops from which to read our parts.

Josh L, Sharon G and I read the main three perspective characters. Josh read Dorian, a young (secretly half-farie) lord trying to keep war from breaking out between the humans and faries. Sharon read Meg, Dorian’s love interest. I read Draven, Meg’s love interest. Oh, he is also Dorian’s brother, and the person who is trying to cause the two races to go to war.

Other parts were read by Momo S, Betsy G, Beth B, Earl P, Lindsay S, Elizabeth S, Amanda L, Jeff H, Steph H, and possibly some other people that will angrily admonish me for fogetting them after they read this blog post.

We spent several hours Friday night reading, and got quite a good start on it. This has been the fourth group reading of a complete work that we’ve done and we seem to be getting the hang of it. After reading, some of us played board games for a while, then we went to bed.

We got up early Saturday morning to eat pancakes and continue our reading. We read most of the day Saturday, taking occasional breaks for snacks or to stretch. In the evening we assembled at a local diner for a meal. After some excitement with a flat tire, we eventually got everyone back to the house. An impromptu dance party commenced for the people who were staying overnight, which eventually evolved into the group laying around in a circle and asking difficult philosophical questions of one another.


Sunday morning we went off to various local houses of worship, and met back at 1 pm to finish off the novel. Overall I think that it went very well. Marian’s novel was a lot of fun, and we had a lot of good discussion about parts of the novel that worked and that didn’t. I think that the information garnered over the weekend will be a valuable tool for Marian as she is revising her work and beginning the process of shopping it around.