Guest Blog Posts

8 Steps to Selling Art Through Ekphrastic Poetry (part 3/3) – guest blog post by Kimberly Burnham, PhD

Artists and writers or poets can team up a create greater visibility for themselves through ekphrastic poetry or fiction writing. Ekphrastic poetry is when the poet reacts to a piece of visual art, a painting, a photograph, or even a sculpture. Ekphrastic poetry is a way to make powerful poetry into a marketing vehicle. This might not be for everyone, but it is a way for poets to help artists gain greater visibility.

1. The first step is to write ekphrastic poetry, develop a portfolio of writing inspired by art. Create a document, a blog, a book with images, links to the images, and poetry.


The fire caused
?? [Hùndùn]
chaos in Chinese
colored cloth women

2. Approach artists about creating a body of ekphrastic poetry about their work. Start with someone whose work you genuinely enjoy. Of course, it is easier for artists to give you permission to include their artwork in material published on blogs or books, if you are offering to write for free but you can also show them the benefit of ekphrastic poetry to their marketing program. Have your social media stats on hand. Consider whether you have lots of friends, followers, and connections who will comment on your posts.

Ekphrastic fiction writing based on Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss.

The Kiss

She wouldn’t have kissed him if she had known how the day would unravel. But in this moment, she couldn’t help herself. Emile had been gone for a month on business. What business, he hadn’t said, and she didn’t pry. It is the reason her friends were always saying, “Rebecca, can be counted on to keep a secret.”

She was so good at keeping secrets that her friends from the past five years didn’t even suspect that Rebecca wasn’t her real name. Only Emile knew the town, Yanna came from and why she had escaped and changed her name.

Only in Emile’s arms did she feel safe. Truly seen and held. She treasured the importance of being seen. Today in this moment before all hell broke loose, she felt safe, seen, and appreciated for who she was.

3. It is easy to find artists. Most artists trying to make a living from their art have a website with a way to contact them. Search for “artist” AND “(name of your locality)” to find local or regional artists. One can also look for artists who create a certain kind of art?impressionists, watercolors, cut paper art, religious scenes, nature inspired art, golf art, graffiti, etc.

Ekphrastic fiction writing originally based on Maurice Brazil Prendergast’s At the Beach.

He stared at her in her blue bathing suit and sunglasses. She was attractive, of course, and that appealed to him, but he also knew what no one else on the crowed beach knew.

She was about to be arrested.

He had tracked her across Europe to the Amalfi coast. She looked Italian and probably felt safe here in Italy. She thought she could blend in, especially with the beach crowd.  A thirty something year old, single woman, spending family money on a beach vacation.

That what she looked like, he thought, the sun beating down on his starched collared shirt. His black leather shoes in his left hand. His cell phone in his right.

The sand rubbing between his toes, he started to think of the irritation that causes pearls to develop in oysters. That thought lead to rubies and diamonds and all the gems she stole from the jewelry store, his family’s jewelry store in Paris three days ago.

She and her partner had made a clean get away but not clean enough.

4. Another way to find artists is to set a Google Alert for the name of a particular artist, type of art or art in a certain region. When you create an alert, Google will send you a daily or weekly email with a list of recent web links that contain the words you have set up for the alert. In the case of art, the links are usually to art in the news, new blog posts from an artist, or art for sale that has been recently posted.

5. Ekphrastic poetry can be used to create interest in art pieces that were created years ago, an online class the artist has just opened for enrollment or on social media to create a greater interest in an artist and their work. Social media loves the combination of pictures and words, especially if both tell a story.

6. Write a variety of types and lengths of poems for each piece of artwork you are promoting. An interesting challenge for poets can be to write a short story as a poem. There are plenty of contests for the famous six-word story. Can you create a six-word story in response to an image or a 140-character poem for Twitter that can be linked back to the artist’s website, so the reader can see the original artwork or buy art? Typically, one can write two haikus (5-7-5 syllable lines) and still be under 140 characters. Extra characters can be used to make the title more engaging.

Ekphrastic poetry based on Banksy’s The Girl with the Pierced Eardrum.

Using What is There

Someone lives here
see a creative
anonymous Banksy
safe and sound an earring
crafted security alarm
face with long sooty hair


7. Poets can challenge themselves to write both a poem and a short piece of fiction about the same painting. Creating a poem from a piece of fiction and a longer fictional story from a poem can make both pieces of writing better. Each is a different doorway into telling the story, emotions, or creating an image with words.

8. Publish a short book of ekphrastic writing. Amazon has a 25-page lower limit on self-published books. Imagine writing 20 or so poems about the work of a single artist, along with black and white images of their work. Each work could link back to the artist’s website or blog where the reader can purchase art and see the prints in color (if the art is not originally in black and white). These black and white, 25 or so page books are typically available to the author and artist for about $3 plus shipping. They can be sold or given out as gifts or prizes at gallery openings, art classes, or poetry workshops.

On Amazon, Donna Baier Stein Scenes from the Heartland: Stories Based on Lithographs by Thomas Hart Benton, is described in this way: “When a contemporary writer turns her imagination loose inside the images of an iconicartist of the past, the result is storytelling magic at its best. Here are nine tales that bring to vivid life the early decades of the 20th century as witnessed by one of America’s most well-known painters. Thomas Hart Benton sketched fiddlers and farm wives, preachers and soldiers, folks gathering in dance halls and tent meetings.

In these stories we enter the imagined lives of Midwesterners in the late 1930s and early 1940s. A mysterious woman dancing to fiddle music makes one small gesture of kindness that helps heal the rift of racial tensions in her small town.”

Poets, what artists do you know that would love to have you write about their artwork? Artists, what poets do you know that would love to write about your artwork, so that both of you can post words and pictures on social media?

If you like this post, please share with your writerly friends and/or  follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram. You can see all the FREE resources my site offers poets/writers on my Start Here page. 

Kimberly Burnham has lived in tropical Colombia; in Belgium during the Vietnam War; in Japan teaching businessmen English; in diverse international Toronto, Canada, and several places in the US. Now, she’s in Spokane, WA with her wife, Elizabeth, two sets of twins (age 11 & 14) and three dogs. Her recent book, Awakenings: Peace Dictionary, Language and the Mind, a Daily Brain Health Program includes the word for peace in hundreds of languages. Her poetry weaves through 60 + volumes of The Year of the Poet, Inspired by Gandhi, Women Building the World, A Woman’s Place in the Dictionary, Tiferet Journal and more. She is currently working on two ekphrastic writing projects. One is a novel, Art Thief Cracks Healing Code for Parkinson’s Disease and the other is a how-to non-fiction book, Using Ekphrastic Fiction Writing and Poetry to Create Interest and Promote Artists, Writers, and Poets. Both will be published by the end of 2020 http://www.NerveWhisperer.Solutions. Using Ekphrastic Fiction Writing and Poetry will be on free download on November 8, 2020 at

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