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Today we continue our journey into art and poetry, and the turn has come to Expressionism, and though notoriously define, I think it’s easiest to start from art, rather that jump directly into all the poets who are classified (or tried to classify themselves) as expressionist.

The simplest and most effective way to define expressionism is that you present the world in a totally subjective perspective. Expressionist artists sought to express the meaning of emotional experience rather than physical reality.

Artists influenced by expressionism tend to work with colors that are distorted from reality, and shapes that bend in ways you least expect, but when you look at Edvard Munch’s the Scream you feel the angst in both the blood red sky and the face distorted by the pain. Think of Kirkegaard and the concept of Angst.

The Scream by Edvard Munch

The Scream by Edvard Munch

Or take a look at Van Gogh and the painting of his bedroom with it’s distorted perspective makes me feel both calm (colors) and claustrophobic (perspective) at the same time.

The Bedroom in Arles by Vincent van Gogh

The Bedroom in Arles by Vincent van Gogh

So how should you go about writing as an expressionist?
Here are a few rules (that I’m glad if you break)

Focus on a strong emotion. Love, hate, anger. Layer the poem with thick brushstrokes.

  • Write the poem in first person (or if third person try to be inside the head of your protagonist)
  • Use strong and bold “colors”, and juxtapose them to create maximum effect. Put strong and opposite images against each other. Think of metaphors to express emotion.
  • Distort the perspective. In your poetry you can do this by for instance using flashbacks in time, or maybe even walking in and out of your persona.
  • Avoid to be bound by form, but don’t refrain from meter, rhymes and the normal poetic tools.

Link up as usual, read and comment and have fun.