Ekphrasis comes from a Greek word, meaning ‘description of a piece of art’. Ekphrastic poems are usually written in response to, or about, a piece of art – whether a painting or photograph, a film or a video, a sculpture or an installation, or any kind of visual art.

One of the most famous ekphrastic poems in the English language is John Keats’ ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’, in which the poet writes in response to an ancient Greek vase. Two ekphrastic poems by a living poet are ‘I Would Like To Be A Dot In A Painting By Miro’ and ‘Mermaid’ by Moniza Alvi.