Book Praise

“The first poem from Shannon K. Winston’s The Girl Who Talked to Paintings associates Joan Miró’s Triptych Bleu with the beginning of a relationship. Trekking back and forth between her house and her lover’s, the speaker explains, “The sidewalk appeared/like black ovals//beneath my feet /where the snow/ had melted. These//tiny openings.” These ekphrastic poems brilliantly open and open into the speaker’s story. What struck me, over and over again, is how far beyond the artwork, how far beyond the story Winston’s words ventured in this deeply moving collection.” -Blas Falconer

“There is a sublime quietude in these poems, which in many cases function as slender apertures through which we witness a queendom of secrets, masked feelings, silences of majestic depth, and an emerging self—what hides “beneath, behind, beyond.”  Paintings serve as parables, interrogators, companions, sisters, mirrors, and metaphors, as in the book’s title poem, a sonnet sequence for the real girl beneath the idealized girl in a John Singer Sargent painting: “Katharine, Catherine, or was it Kate? / I, too, was a first draft, a sketch, half-baked.” I love the bold honesty of this girl whose breadth and acuity of seeing transforms her story of a cloistered abandonment into a map to selfhood—and poetry.” -Diane Seuss

“If only I could step through / the canvas,” writes Shannon K. Winston in this dazzling collection, and in these poems, she does exactly that; she inhabits the works of art that her poems examine, not to describe those works back to us, but to show us something strange and unknowable about ourselves. The Girl Who Talked to Paintings is a gorgeous book with a brilliant ekphrastic heart—tender, luminous, and unforgettable.”-Matthew Olzmann