Ekphrastic Poetry Project

art inspired by art


Ekphrastic, or ekphrasis, is a Greek word described by Webster’s dictionary as “a literary description of, or commentary on, a visual work of art.” Our goal is to create and connect inspiration to visual works of art in Maryhill Museum of Art’s rich collections. This is art inspired by art.

Ekphrastic poetry and artmaking are part of a long tradition. It works in several ways. In one way, poetry inspires objects and another, objects inspire poetry. Many Greek vases are covered with artwork that tell the story of the Trojan war from the epic poem, The Iliad, written by Homer sometime in the 8th century BCE. The poet John Keats wrote Ode on a Grecian Urn in 1819 after contracting tuberculosis; his poem examines the close relationship between art, beauty, and truth, as well as the fragility of it all.


Maryhill Museum wants to inspire the art of poetry!

We invite YOU to view objects from the museum’s collection and then write, and/or perform, an original poem inspired by one of our artworks. Afterwards, you can share your poems for others to read. We’ll share the submissions on our website.

Use the resources below to get inspired by artworks from Maryhill’s collections and online exhibitions. Once you’ve written your poem, come back here and scroll to the bottom of this page to share your work!


Share an original poem inspired by one of our artworks and upload it below. The artwork and the poem may be shared on our website and/or social media. There is also the possibility for a publication to follow. Any poetry chosen will require an agreement. Please make sure you have completed the entire entry form. (*No personal information will be shared.)

Image: Eanger Irving Couse, (American, 1866–1936), In the Trees (detail), c. 1898, oil on canvas, 36” x 41”; from the collection of George W. Shane Jr., Collection of Maryhill Museum of Art