Ekphrastic Poetry

An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art.

tma group

Mrs. Darlene Blakely takes her AP students on a field trip to the Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) each year so they can compose an ekphrastic poem inspired by one of the TMA’s artworks (glass, sculpture, painting, etc.).  When they return to class, students share their poems at the week’s Coffee House, where students read their poems to the class with the image on the SmartBoard behind them. Below is an example by recent graduate, Valerie Royzman (2016).  Valerie’s poem won the Ohio Poetry Association contest, and she also placed second in the TMA’s Ekphrastic Poetry Contest.


after “The Roofs of Old Rouen, Gray Weather”

          Camille Pissaro, oil on canval, Toledo Museum of Art  

All I see is gray

Not the kind that goes on below the rooftops

Where the bustle of the city is full of gray people

Who grow tired of being tired

With gray beneath their sleepy eyes

Swimming in a sea of gray

Impossible it seems, not to drown sometimes

No, Pissarro means different

Gray can be happy, too

Gray is the rugged rooftop shingles that have weathered over time

Gray is the color of compromise

Taking neither side of black or white

Gray is not jealous, for it screams both right and wrong

Gray is elegant and dignified

People find relief in gray from a chaotic world

Gray is the gothic cathedral in the back

Holding reliability and sanity for the people of Rouen

But lastly, gray was serenity and sunshine

Shining from the ninth floor of the hotel room

When the dreariness of tedious lifestyles

Suddenly went away

And became the same gray

That reminds me of your eyes.


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