April 25, 2021

Artwork by Crista Siglin

Our Poetic Vision virtual event series is exploring the intersections between poetry, visual art, film, and the sciences. In the opening webinar on 25 April 2021, available as a replay, four interdisciplinary poets shared insights from their practice and presented these four writing invitations so you can try writing across realms yourself.

Some of the poems generated using these prompts will be read on at our Intermingled Visions reading on 23 May, co-hosted by Singapore’s Sing Lit Station, on our YouTube channel.

Artwork by Crista Siglin

1. Art and Gender

by Janée J. Baugher

Writing Invitation:

Here are two ideas for writing an ekphrastic gender-politics poem/essay/story: contrast the fashion designs associated with female heroes versus male heroes, and explore the portrayal of stereotypical gender behaviors in art—females and maternity, domesticity, matrimony, and sexuality as symbols of weakness versus males as warriors, deities, religious leaders, thinkers, and machinists as symbols of strength.

(from The Ekphrastic Writer: Creating Art-Influenced Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction, page 209)

Suggested Viewing I:

The artwork of contemporary hyperrealism artist, Carole A. Feuerman

Suggested Viewing II:

The artwork of contemporary multimedia artist, Wendy Red Star

Janée J. Baugher, MFA, (Seattle, WA, USA) is the author of The Ekphrastic Writer: Creating Art-Influenced Poetry, Fiction and Nonfiction, a comprehensive guidebook for engaging with art in words, as well as two poetry collections, Coördinates of Yes and The Body’s Physics. Her recent art/flash exchange with Qrcky was featured in the light ekphrastic. She is also the columnist at The Ekphrastic Review.

2. Remembering Art in a Public Space

by Jess Mc Kinney

Writing Invitation:

Cast your mind back to the last piece of art you saw in a public space, whether that be an art gallery, museum or cinema. Think about why it spoke to you and has since lingered in your mind. Try and name the ways in which you felt close to it in that moment, and feel affected by it still.

Pause in that instance of the glimpse.

Investigate the space between yourself and the work.

Jess Mc Kinney is a poet from Inishowen, C. Donegal, Ireland who recently completed her MA in Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast, where she was awarded the Irish Chair of Poetry Student Award 2020. Her poem “Deluge” in the current SAND 22 rewatches the classic anime film Spirited Away, lip-syncs Leonard Cohen, and exposes the startling sweep of its own poetic vision. Her work has also appeared or is forthcoming in The Stinging Fly, Banshee, Abridged, The Open Ear, Channel Magazine, and The Poetry Jukebox. She was awarded an artist bursary from Donegal County Council to complete her debut poetry pamphlet.

3. The Bee Dance

by Federico Federici


Bees and honey are a worn-out poetry myth, but one can accept the challenge and try to revive it. In the mid-1940s, Karl von Frisch discovered a connection between the dance in the hive of bees returning from a successful exploration outside and the presence of nearby/distant food sources.

The presence of an abundant source within a range of 100 m away is conveyed to hive mates by means of a round dance (fig. 1). If the food is further away, the successful bee starts dancing in the shape of a figure of eight (fig. 2). It starts with a straight line, followed by a semicircle, then another straight line and a semicircle again in the opposite direction.

The angle formed by the straight line in relation to gravity (dances are performed on a surface perpendicular to the ground) corresponds to the angle to the sun the bee flew from the feeding place back to the hive. The speed of waggling the hindquarter indicates the distance to the source (1 s ≈ 1km).

Writing Invitation:

The language of bees combines space and time, shapes and rhythm like a text.

  • read up more on the topic and familiarize yourself with it
  • state in a preliminary prose the connection between the text and the dance of bees: you may eventually adapt it later
  • this must both guide you and serve as a primary source for the reader to get acquainted with the elements of the phenomenon
  • on an evening at your choice, try to convey in the form of a few short texts the most important “sources” of your day
  • play rigorously around with rhythm and figures according to what you stated: you are a bee now and precisely know your task
  • waggling: length of lines, rhymes, rhythm and so forth
  • even a one-word poem laid out on a circular shape should vibrate in a strong way now

Federico explains prompt during webinar:

More information and publishing opportunity:

You can download Federico’s full presentation from the event here on his website.

Anyone who tries this prompt is also invited to submit your results to be considered for a forthcoming issue of the magazine Die Leere Mitte, co-edited in Berlin by Federico and Horst Berger. Send your submissions to leeremittemag [AT] gmail [DOT] com.

Federico Federici is a conceptual artist and physicist who approaches poetry as a visual medium. Four asemic poems from his Concrete Disassembled Poems series, created by typewriter and pen, were featured in SAND 18. Among many other projects, he is the author of Transcripts from demagnetized tapes, Vol. 1 and A private notebook of winds.

4. A Process/Prompt for Thinking and Writing with Scientific Texts

by Kanika Agrawal
1. MIT Professor Sherry Turkle is a sociologist and psychologist who studies people’s relationships with science and technology. In her editor’s introductions to the essay collections Falling for Science: Objects in Mind and Evocative Objects: Things We Think With, she writes:
[T]hinking with and about things is not a cold, intellectual enterprise but is charged with eros. (Falling 6)
Science is fueled by passion, a passion that often attaches to the world of objects much as         the artist attaches to his paints, the poet to his or her words. (Falling 36-7)
We find it familiar to consider objects as useful or aesthetic, as necessities or vain indulgences. We are on less familiar ground when we consider objects as companions to our emotional lives or as provocations to thought. The notion of evocative objects brings together these two less familiar ideas, under-scoring the inseparability of thought and feeling in our relationship to things. We think with the objects we love; we love the objects we think with. (Evocative 5)

2. As a former scientist-in-training, I’m interested in how scientists attend to what they love—and what I love—in/through their scientific work. As a writer, I’m interested in how that attention and its outcomes are conveyed in scientific texts.

3. How and why is a particular thing evocative/provocative to me, and what happens to my relationship with it and my understanding of it when I (re)examine it through scientific thought, language and image?

4. Where does poetry come into this?

In Forms of Poetic Attention, Lucy Alford writes:
It is true that poetic language is densely formed. But what is formed by and in poetic language is an event of attention generated in the acts of reading and writing. I suggest that a poem might be better understood not simply as a gathering of composed formal features, but as an instrument for tuning and composing the attention. (3-4)
Poetic form forms attention. What does this mean for us? What does it do to us?
[W]e begin to see attention not as a fact, not as trend, not as mandate, but rather as medium, a medium that can be formed in a variety of ways, and which makes up the structures and terrains of inner experience where it meets sensual perception. And, going a step further, we begin to see “the poetic” not as a narrow set of qualities or ideals but as a process through which the material of language forms—dynamically and fundamentally—the very shape and texture of inner life. (Alford 270)
5. I’ve come to love scientific texts themselves as things to think and feel with. When I work with them, I read and write to form scientific attention and the language that describes it as poetic attention in language. Whatever the science attends to becomes also linguistic material becomes also inner experience. How do these (trans)formations happen?

Source Materials:

I’m providing three foundational scientific papers that I’ve worked with as initiating material for your experiments with form. Of course, if you continue to work with scientific texts, please find the objects and texts that are “charged with eros” for you.

Writing Invitation:

Here are three exercises to try with one or more of the papers:

  • Choose a technical term and track it through the text (or part of the text, if it appears frequently or the text is very long). For each appearance, write down the type of phrase/sentence it’s in. For example, is it a claim, a question, a description of method? Now, write a new line/sentence for each instance of the term, and each must preserve the term and do the same rhetorical work as the original phrase/sentence. At this point, you can change the order of the lines/sentences. You can also replace the technical term with an entirely different Finally, select a word or phrase from the same scientific text to title your piece.
  • Write a Q&A piece using at least two scientific texts from different disciplines. Make a list of all the questions that appear in your chosen texts and select at least seven for your Each question must be answered with language appropriated or adapted from a different text. You can add an introduction that frames/contextualizes the Q&A.
  • Find a phrase in one text that is both meaningful and mysterious to you. (For example, I’m obsessed with Watson and Crick’s “This figure is purely diagrammatic.”) Set up a physical or virtual bulletin board and pin your phrase at the center. For the next week, allow this phrase to form and direct your attention. Whenever you recognize a change in your thinking/feeling/experience as a result of the phrase, add a note to the board. Add also whatever new words/language the phrase leads you to or seems to attract to itself. Try to read all other texts you encounter through the lens of the phrase. How does this alter your reading of those texts, and how do the texts expand or shrink the possibilities of the phrase? Add these ideas to the board. Move and edit the notes as needed as you rethink their relationships to the phrase and to other notes. You may even decide to displace the phrase from the center. By the end of the week, you’ll have a constellation of thought and language to give shape to your next piece of writing.

Works Cited:

Alford, Lucy. Forms of Poetic Attention. Columbia UP, 2020.

Turkle, Sherry, editor. Evocative Objects: Things We Think With. MIT Press, 2007.

—. Falling for Science: Objects in Mind. MIT Press, 2008.

Video of Kanika’s Presentation & Interview:

Kanika Agrawal’s work-in-progress Okazaki Fragments, excerpted in SAND 19, adapts language and images from a series of scientific papers on discontinuous strand synthesis during DNA replication. This research was led by the Japanese molecular biologists Okazaki and Okazaki. Okazaki Fragments (re)constructs Okazaki and Okazaki’s experiences by reading their lives into (or out of) their scientific papers. Kanika studied biology many years ago as an undergraduate at MIT, and she has been thinking and writing about Okazaki fragments and various other cellular molecules and processes ever since.

Upcoming event: Intermingled Visions reading

23 May 2021
Artwork by Crista Silin

Intermingled Visions (A Reading)

23 May 2021

The concluding reading of our series, co-hosted by Sing Lit Station, will intermingle poetic visions. People who wrote poems using the writing invitations above, including participants from Crista’s workshop and April’s annual Singapore Poetry Writing Month (SingPoWriMo), will read on our YouTube channel.

About the Co-Hosts:

Members of the SingPoWriMo online community have written more than 20,000 poems in response to diverse prompts over the past eight Aprils. Sing Lit Station has also staged poetry readings on trains, buses and ferries; painted invisible poems on Singaporean sidewalks that appear in the rain; and organised the first Manuscript Bootcamp in Southeast Asia. It also administers the Hawker Prize for Southeast Asian Poetry and stages the only performance poetry / professional wrestling hybrid performance in the world, Sing Lit Body Slam. As a physical space, Sing Lit Station hosts a writing residency, masterclasses, and monthly peer-run writing groups consisting of practicing and aspiring writers, migrant workers, queer folk and more, and more facilitated communities such as Writing The City.


  • Date: Sunday 23 May 2021
  • Time: starting at 2pm Berlin / 8pm Singapore / 1pm Dublin (12pm UTC)
  • Length: 1 hour
  • Platform: YouTube Live on SAND‘s channel
  • Free
  • Co-moderated by Jake Schneider, SAND Editor in Chief, and Charlene Shepherdson, Station Manager of Sing Lit Station

Voluntary donations to support Sing Lit StationSAND are welcome

Sunday 23 May 2021

Our Poetic Vision virtual event series explored the intersections between poetry, visual art, film, and the sciences. In the opening webinar, available as a replay, four interdisciplinary poets shared insights from their practice and presented writing invitations. In this concluding Intermingled Visions reading on 23 May 2021, co-hosted by Singapore’s Sing Lit Station, 12 poets from around the world read poems written using these prompts, including both participants in the annual Singapore Poetry Writing Month (SingPoWriMo) and Crista Siglin’s Poetry As_A Lens workshop.

Artwork by Crista Siglin


Erika Kielsgard

teaches English literature and creative writing for The City University of New York (CUNY) and is an alumna of Brooklyn College’s MFA Program, where she serves as an editor-at-large of The Brooklyn Review. Her poems have found generous homes in Bone BouquetCordella MagazineThe Penn Review, and others; most recently, you can find her fiction in Maudlin House and hear her read for The Brooklyn Rail’’s New Social Environment #226: Radical Poetry Reading.

Twitter @orchidnymph.

On Poetic Process

My ideas about engaging with art and science are symbiotic if not amalgamate, prioritizing care: first, to amend anthropocentric perceptions of "life" in the interest of liberating aesthetic and subjective finitude, and second, that this interest sustainably supports a diverse engagement with imagination, meaning, and expression in both human and non-human life-worlds. SAND's series inspired my process and helped to clarify these experiences and reflections of care on the page. (Thank you Crista, everyone in Session A [of the Poetry As_A Lens workshop], Kanika, Jess, Federico, and Janée!)

The Flower Mantises She Cares For

Hymenopus coronatus. Native to the forests of Southeast Asia, these flower mantises resemble Phalaenopsis orchids, adopting the colorations, shapes, and movements of these species. These appearances modify as the nymphs progress in their life cycle, mirroring the flora of their environment.

is a Cyprus-based poet and short story writer whose work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies around the world. Her poetry was included in Being Human (Bloodaxe Books, 2011), Capitals (Bloomsbury, 2017), and, most recently, in the Live Canon Anthology 2020

On Poetic Process

Ekphrasis in the Greek sense of the word is essential to the way I work as a poet. Description becomes expression and vice versa. I also love approaching a work of art at a random tangent to arrive at a really unexpected place.

Kate Segriff

is a Canadian writer, filmmaker, and visual artist. Her work has appeared in Prism International, Prairie Fire, and Storm Cellar magazines, among others. Her feminist short films have been selected for over 50 film festivals worldwide.

On Poetic Process

For me, the visual and written word are part of a continuum. I believe my writing is improved by envisioning, and sometimes literally sketching, the images in my head and transforming those tangible artscapes into words. Likewise, I am inspired by the art of others and when I am considering an art piece that touches me it is as if I can hear it speaking, telling me its story in words.

Artistic Influences for Reading

"La Gommeuse" by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 1901 (Public domain)

Ayilisha Manthira

is an arts organiser who was the executive producer and co-host of the Solliladanga podcast series on Singapore Tamil literature. She received the NAC Golden Point Award’s second prize for Tamil poetry in 2019. Her poem “Seithigalin Saaram” was featured in the Cordite Poetry Review’s 2020 Singapore poetry anthology.

On Poetic Process

I was inspired to write this poem after reading a New York Times article in 2019 documenting the instance of an artist in Hong Kong standing in the middle of a protest and painting everything he was witnessing on a canvas. The artist said that he was creating that piece of art because of being aware that the Chinese government was heavily censoring the media, and that his painting would be a way for him to record history and more likely escape the government’s hands to reach the next generations. My poem was an imagination of how the canvas would have witnessed the protests, what (coming from the protests) would have gotten mixed in the paint used and have become a part of the painting, and also “history”. Thus, it was not a piece of art that I was looking at, but rather the act of an artist painting on a canvas in the middle of ongoing protests that made me write the poem.

An English transcreation of "ஒரு சித்திரத்தின்/ல் வரலாறு" by Ayilisha Manthira. Courtesy of the poet

Lune Loh

is a trans lesbian writer. She is also a core member of /[email protected], a Singaporean writing collective, and is currently an undergraduate at the National University of Singapore.

On Poetic Process

Some of my own poetics are influenced via an attention to the formal structure of other artistic modes, whether it is music or visual art. I do not write so much about science as I do write in an interrogation of science, where it takes “Nature” as given and for granted. I will be reading an ekphrasis of Manet's "Olympia" (1856), which explores such themes.

Ang Shuang

Ang Shuang’s work has been published by the Asian-American Writers’ Workshop, The Rumpus, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal. She graduated with an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is now working on her debut collection and her rescue dog.

On Poetic Process

My poems are often mood-driven, which means I tend to get inspired by art, film, or music. For this particular piece, I was inspired by the artwork “Judith with the Head of Holofernes” by Lucas Cranach the Elder.

Gita Ralleigh

is a writer and medical doctor with work in Bellevue Literary Review, Wasafiri, and Magma Poetry. She teaches creative writing to medical students and has an MSc in the medical humanities. Her poetry collection A Terrible Thing is published by Bad Betty Press.

On Poetic Process

I find ekphrastic writing to be a wonderful entry point when teaching and was particularly interested in the idea that poetry inspired by film could be considered ekphrasis. Inspired by Janée [Baugher]'s prompt on gender in art/film, I tried to interrogate the 'girl warrior' trope in films such as the Hunger Games and how it extends to the portrayal of activists such as X Gonzalez.

"March for Our Lives Emma Brings Tears” (24 March 2018) by Mobilus in Mobili is licensed under cc-by-sa-2

Winifred Wong

is a Singaporean writer based in Berlin. Her work has been published in SOFTBLOW, Yahoo!, and Esplanade Theatres. Her EP things i’m afraid to tell you is available on all streaming platforms. Her debut short play Alexa will be screened at the Kreuzberger HofFestSpiele later this year.

On Poetic Process

I am inspired and intrigued by art hidden in plain sight, especially around Berlin where people are unapologetically themselves, and I love that I can filter it through the web of my subconscious and make it mine.


Read two of her poems posted on SingPoWriMo Facebook page:

Read the poem “A Gift for You” by Eileen Myles, which informed “house/home.”

Dr. Patricia Falkenburg

is a molecular biologist, a poet writing in German and English, and a visual artist. Born in 1961 in Mannheim, she currently lives in Pulheim, near Cologne. Her poems have been published in numerous anthologies, journals, and blogs. Her collection Portugiesische Notizen (Portuguese Notes) was published in 2019 as LyrikHeft 24 by Sonnenberg-Presse, Chemnitz.

On Poetic Process

As it turns out, ekphrastic writing is one of my major poetic occupations. Being myself both a scientist and a poet/visual artist, I am very fascinated by the intersection of art and science and exploring their relation in the poetic process.

Supplementary Artwork

Patricia writes: “I accept the invitation and send two images in addition to the poems I am going to read. I perceive both as connected to the subjects explored in the texts. I realized hands on in correspondence to my poem ‘Watching Carole Feuermann sculpturing womb’ – quite a sarcastic comment maybe. The second poem I’d like to present, ‘Traditional dilemma,’ takes us to the zone where science and religion meet not all too happily. ‘Faith’ may give room to ponder on implications and is in itself an ekphrastic image referring to a musical event that took place in pre-covid times in my favourite Cologne museum (the Kolumba Museum).”

Ben Luton

is a student of CD Wright and an avant-garde radio artist from the Gulf Coast, with the notable distinction of Hurricane Katrina refugee. His poetry can be found in Lana Turner and his extraterrestrial dispatches on Radio Free Brooklyn.

On Poetic Process

I believe that anthropology and all its outgrowth classifications (e.g., psychology and sociology) are not only capable of defining culture itself but set a prerogative for cultural activity: social stewardship. Art, just like any other form of social organization, is an ongoing non-terminating activity; that is the nature of history, and neither art’s culpability nor its potential for transformation and liberation can be unwound from this activity. Using Federico’s bee dance prompt, I juxtapose a public/poem voice fragmented by brute sound with social media transcripts in an attempt to describe the permeability of identities through social organization.

Ben Luton. Courtesy of poet


Rea Maac

is originally from Marinduque, Philippines and has been working in Singapore since 2010. Her poem was shortlisted in Migrant Worker Poetry Competition Singapore 2017.

On Poetic Process

In writing my poems, I often wonder what's the real story behind an artwork and this leads me to dig deeper. Art allows me to process the feelings it evokes, in a way that captures my own experience.

Rea Maac. Courtesy of the poet

Miguel Barreto García

writes poetry and performs spoken word about family, boyhood, and history. They completed their PhD in decision neuroscience, and began performing in Switzerland’s poetry slam scene. Their poems have appeared or have been accepted in Rattle, Magma, wildness, harana, and The Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, among others.

On Poetic Process

Many of my poems are influenced by Mark Rothko, especially his Red on Maroon series. There are so many ways to engage with the painting, and I've written many poems about it.


Miguel Barretto García. Courtesy of poet


Reading Moderators


Based in Berlin, SAND is a nonprofit literary journal published twice a year by a team from the city’s international community. Featuring work by writers, translators, and artists from around the world, SAND seeks out fresh and underrepresented perspectives. Since our founding in 2009, our large, evolving team has published more than two thousand pages of visual art and English-language fiction, nonfiction, and poetry (including translations) from over fifty countries and territories.

Our current issue, SAND 22, is available here in both print and digital versions.

Learn more:

You can learn more about SAND on this website, follow us on Instagram (@sandjournalberlin), Twitter (@sandjournal), or Facebook (SAND Journal), or subscribe to our newsletter to hear about future events, news, and opportunities:

Voluntary donations:

Sing Lit Station logo
SingPoWriMo logo

Sing Lit Station & SingPoWriMo

Members of the SingPoWriMo online community have written more than 20,000 poems in response to diverse prompts over the past eight Aprils. Sing Lit Station has also staged poetry readings on trains, buses and ferries; painted invisible poems on Singaporean sidewalks that appear in the rain; and organised the first Manuscript Bootcamp in Southeast Asia. It also administers the Hawker Prize for Southeast Asian Poetry and stages the only performance poetry / professional wrestling hybrid performance in the world, Sing Lit Body Slam. As a physical space, Sing Lit Station hosts a writing residency, masterclasses, and monthly peer-run writing groups consisting of practicing and aspiring writers, migrant workers, queer folk and more, and more facilitated communities such as Writing The City.

Learn more:

You can learn more about Sing Lit Station on their website. SingPoWriMo is organized as a Facebook group, which you can join here.

Voluntary Donations: