The participatory aspect of his work imbued by its call to environmental action prompted the performance portion of the “slam.” Ekphrastic writing, as defined by the Poetry Foundation, is a “vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art."
Contestants strolled the halls and walls searching for their mixed media muses, then scribbled their thoughts in provided notebooks. Many attendees discovered their poems and stories in the Longitudinal Installation, a circle of women’s shoes representing 24 countries along a grid and featuring quotes about climate change in those areas. Perhaps the footwear construction was a metaphor for civilization’s growing carbon footprint. My imagination was piqued by the rays of rainbow colors bursting within water blue backdrops in Starfish Shuffle, a series of ink on glass paintings that were part of the Florida collection.
Votes were cast by dropping tokens into vases labeled with the participants’ names. These were tallied, and winners were announced and awarded free attendance to a Creative Pinellas class for third place, $25 Kahwa Coffee gift certificates for second, and for first place books supplied by St. Petersburg business Tombolo Books, which set up a pop-up bookstore on site. Ekphrastic poetry comprised one of these tomes.
Though artistic pursuits can sometimes feel isolating, Creative Pinellas’s ekphrastic event brought practitioners and appreciators of the visual and literary genres together before a showcase of globally conscious gallery pieces. Just as nature is Xavier Cortada’s muse, so was he to those who visited and stepped up to the microphone as a spirit of creativity passed from person to person.