Images: A Collection of Ekphrastic Poetry
by Michael Escoubas
29 Poems ~ 29 Paintings & Photographs ~ 58 Pages
Format: 5½ x 8½
ISBN: 978-81-8253-761-3
Price: $15.00
To Order:
or direct from the author:

Reviewed by Karla Linn Merrifield

Readers of Quill & Parchment know about ekphrastic poetry which has long been
publishing a section dedicated to ekphrasis.

The journal is not alone in its spotlighting of the art of poetry written in response
to a work of art (which is what ekphrasis is—that simple). The online quarterly
Visual Verse: An Anthology of Art and Words has been solely devoted to ekphras-
tic poetry for eight years. For each edition, the editors select an image and invite
poets to respond to it in much the same way as does Quill & Parchment.

You might even call ekphrastic poetry a rage! In September, my local poets orga-
nization, Just Poets of Greater Rochester, offered at its monthly meeting, an ek-
phrastic workshop conducted by poet Kitty Jospé, whom I’ve longed deemed the
guru of ekphrasis. Her many years as a docent at the University of Rochester’s
Memorial Art Gallery has inspired Kitty to write dozens of stellar ekphrastic
poems. It was Kitty who first introduced me to the genre.

With all that may be said about history, background, and resources of the genre,
one can do no better than dive into Michael Escoubas’ Images: A Collection of Ek-
phrastic Poetry.
This work is destined to become a handbook for both beginners
and experienced poets who embrace this poetic approach.

Michael is an accomplished poet of ekphrasis, right up there with Kitty. His new
collection (which follows his 2018 ekphrastic journey with Monet, Monet in Po-
etry and Paint,
and his 2019 collection, Steve Henderson in Poetry and Paint) in
that wildly popular genre is a stunner.

Here are twenty-nine poems paired with beautifully reproduced full-color paint-
ings, photographs, a quilt, and even a swatch of embroidery that lead us from
image into words woven with flashes of wisdom. In “Sea and Shadow,” based on
a watercolor by Blanca Alvarez, Michael observes, “We live in the/ continuous
mystery of now.” In “Village by the Sea,” he reminds us to listen to ocean music:
“… absorbed in each other/ the caressing of the sea/ is like a song …” And, al-
though the poem is based on an amazingly evocative photograph by Victor Riehl,
you will see no lovers in the image. That, too, is part of Michael’s ekphrastic
genius—he brings something greater to the original work of art! All the while
wisely inviting us to experience anew the soothing voice of Earth’s great waters.

The book also offers us welcomed moments of tenderness. Tears nearly sprang
into my eyes reading “Ingrid loves white orchids,” after a photograph by Shar-
magne Leland-St. John (editor of Quill & Parchment). In the poem a shy teenage
boy marks an important passage in his budding love life. About to head off on an
important date with a girl, “… he takes a moment to tie/ the orchid around her
wrist …” Remember those days? Your first prom? That slender boy who brought
you flowers? Or your own boyhood and that significant evening that began with a
rose or carnation? Almost impossible not to scan your memories in search of a
similar scene, such is the evocative power of Michael’s lines.

What a joy it is to turn the page and be treated to a brief lesson in art history, too!
Take the poem “Vibrations of Color,” which reflects on Paul Cezanne’s 1897
painting “Pines and Rocks.” We learn about Cezanne’s realism, and how he
“never fit in/ with the Impressionists” as well as how he “became the bridge/
between Monet and Picasso …”

You needn’t be a denizen of the world’s art museums nor even a reader of poetry
to appreciate this collection. There’s something for everyone in Michael’s hand-
some book. It’s accessible, immediate, absorbing—and delightfully quiet. Art, and
the poetry of art, enables healing. Thanks to Michael, a seer and teacher, we may
emerge from his pages having come to “love the austerity of ice-blue trees,” as he
writes in “The Empty View,” by Peter Shefler. With poet Michael Escoubas in our
lives, we need never fear an empty view on life, love, art, and poetry.

Editor’s Note: Both Michael Escoubas and Sharmagne Leland-St. John have written com-
panion collections about the same images, each with different poetic responses to those images.
They are available from the authors by direct request.


Return to:

[New] [Archives] [Join] [Contact Us] [Poetry in Motion] [Store] [Staff] [Guidelines]