Sunday, December 13, 2009

The Art of Poetry- an Anthology of Poems Inspired by Art

Welcome to The Art of Poetry! This anthology of poems was created for all artists and all lovers of art. These poems relate the experience many of us have of being moved by a piece of art, or even a particular artist, and wishing to share those feelings with the world. Describing the way a piece of art looks or affects you can be complicated. Poetry offers a unique way to express those feelings. The styles and word choices available with poetry allows a type of description unlike any other style of writing. This anthology shows that ability and reaffirms the connection between artists, art, and their audience.

Some of the selected poems talk about a particular piece of art. They elaborate on that piece with descriptive word choices that offer more depth than mere mention of color or shape. Through the carefully crafted poem the reader is able to envision the true impact of the piece of art, not just the surface elements.

Others of the selected poems discuss the way a piece of art made the poet feel. They may express the emotions brought up by witnessing the art. They may describe an imaginary back-story of what is happening in the piece (or what has happened leading up to the moment captured in the piece). Regardless, these poems offer an insight beyond just the visual.

Finally, several of the selected poems convey how an artist has affected the poet. These poems consider the actual artist, how that artist thinks, feels and works. They are inspired by the creator, instead of, or as well as, the work created.

It does not matter how the poet was inspired- by the visual, the emotion, or the artist. The consistent element for all the works in this anthology is that it is the amazing work of another artist that drove the poet to create. We have all felt that inspiration from art, and these poems celebrate what follows that first moment of revelation.

I recommend you let the image dictate which poem you read first. Since it was the art that inspired the poet I would like you to have a similar experience. Scroll through the images and once you see one that speaks to you click on the link underneath it. This will lead you to the poem based on that particular piece of art. There is also a small blurb underneath each image, to give you a better idea of what you are seeing. Once you have clicked a link feel free to wander around the new site. Many of them have additional history on the poet or the inspiration.

Thank you for taking time to experience this anthology. Hopefully you will feel inspired and have a chance to see how poetry is art, art is poetry, and we all have something unique to say!

The Painting- John Balaban
A translation of a Vietnamese folk poem. This is not the specific painting, but it echoes the sentiment of the poem.

Ode to a Grecian Urn- John Keats
This sketch was drawn by Keats and is the inspiration for the poem.
Ode to a Grecian Urn Summarized- Desmond Skirrow
A whimsical summary of Ode to a Grecian Urn. Best if read after reading Keats. : )

Number 1 by Jackson Pollock- Nancy Sullivan
Based on the painting "Number 1" by Jackson Pollock (1948)

Lingo 7
This link leads to four paintings made as a collaboration between poet Frank O'Hara and artist Norman Bluhm. Each painting is both the poem and the piece of art. Click on the word "more" on the site to see the next painting.

Girl Powdering Her Neck- Cathy Song
Inspired by the print of the same name by Utamaro (1753).

Archaic Torso of Apollo- Rainer Maria Rilke
In tribute to the Miletus torso, crafted by an unknown artisan around 480-470BC. The marble sculpture resides in the Louvre in Paris, where Rilke was first inspired by it.

If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso- Gertrude Stein
Stein and Picasso had a close friendship. He painted this portrait of her and she wrote him this poem in return. He was only 24 when the portrait was started and it took over ninety sittings to complete. This was one of Picasso's earliest forays into Cubism (specifically her face). When someone commented Stein did not look like her portrait he replied, "She will".

Joseph Cornell, with Box- Michael Dumanis
Based on the unique abstract dioramas Cornell created. Though not specifically stated this untitled box, commonly known as "Bebe Marie" (early 1940's) seems to be the specific inspiration.

On the Medusa of Leonardo Da Vinci in the Florentine Gallery- Percy Shelley
Shelley wrote this poem upon seeing this 16th century painting in the Florentine Gallery. At the time the painting was mistakenly attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci. It has since be said to be by an unknown Danish painter.

Nude Descending A Staircase- X.J. Kennedy
Based on the imagery of the same title painting by Marcel Duchamp (1912).

To S.M., A Young African Painter, on Seeing His Works- Phillis Wheatley
Wheatley was a slave, born in West Africa. The Wheatleys who purchased her took particular interest in her education. She became the first black poet in America to publish a book. The specific piece that inspired this poem is unknown and was likely never famous. The piece I chose seemed an fair example of what could have so inspired Wheatley over two centuries ago.

Stealing the Scream- Monica Youn
Written after "The Scream" by Edvard Munch (1891) was stolen from The National Gallery in Oslo, Norway, in 2004.

The Disquieting Muses- Sylvia Plath
A poem referencing "The Disquieting Muses" by Giorgio de Chirico (1913).

Matisse: "The Red Studio"- W.D. Snodgrass
Upon Henri Matisse's work, "The Red Studio" (1911), a painting Matisse did of his own art studio.

Why I Am Not A Painter- Frank O'Hara
This poem talks about O'Hara's observations of the odd work habits of painters, and the similarities to the oddities of poets. A line in the poem mentions O'Hara's friend, painter Mike Goldberg, and a reference to the word, "sardines". The image above is that painting: "Sardines" by Michael Goldberg (1955).

Why knowing is (& Matisse's Woman with a Hat)- Martha Ronk
This poem images the scenario involved with the sitting to paint "Woman with a Hat" by Matisse (1905).

Die Muhle Brennt- Richard Matthews
An interpretation of the painting, "Wackelstuhl" (meaning "Wobbly Stool") by Georg Bazelitz (1987).

The Hunt by Night- Derek Mahon
A poetic story considering this oil painting by Paolo Uccello (1495).

Vincent (Starry Starry Night)- Don McLean
Lyrics from a song about the painting "Starry Night" (1889) and its infamously tortured creator, Vincent Van Gogh.Van Gogh painted this work while in an asylum in Saint-Remy.

The Man with the Blue Guitar- Wallace Stevens
Inspired by the iconic work from Pablo Picasso's Blue Period. The painting is entitled "The Old Guitarist" (1903/04).

The Great Wave: Hokusai- Donald Finkel
This poem refers to the woodprint by Hokusai Katsushika, called "The Great Wave at Kamagawa" (1823-29).

American Gothic- John Stone
An imagining of the events happening inside the image of the same name. The painting "American Gothic" is by Grant Wood (1930).

You Begin- Margaret Atwood
This poem looks at the wholesome simplicity found in a child's crayon artwork. The image above is not the specific inspiration, but holds the whimsy Atwood references in her piece.


  1. cool anthology. keep expanding! anne lauterbach has a great poem about painting, still life with apricots. john ashbery's about self portrait in a convex mirror a good one too. wc williams on a icaraus painting by brueghel.

  2. Nude Descending a Staircase (No. 2) on3121

    Grv Namirha