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How to Write Ekphrastic Poetry and Make Money Writing Poetry

Updated on January 15, 2015

What on Earth is Ekphrasis it Sounds Like Greek to me

Well actually yes, the word ekphrasis is derived from the Greek language. Ekphrasis comes from the Greek words ek ('out') and phrasis ('speak') which literally translates to speak out. It is also drawn from the verb ekphrazein, which means to proclaim or call an inanimate object by name. In plain English ekphrasis is simply a "description" and it is used to refer to an artistic style in which one art form is used to describe another art form. For example a poem that is written to describe a painting is called an ekphrastic poem. This poetic style is referred to as ekphrastic poetry and it is a relatively popular style which dates back to ancient times. You can find examples of ancient ekphrastic poems at this link notes on ekphrasis. Perhaps one of the best known examples of ekphrastic poetry (which you may not have realized was an ekphrastic poem) is The Tyger by William Blake. William Blake was both a poet and artist and his ekphrastic poems were based on his own works of art, however most ekphrastic poetry is based on other people's art work. Right, if all that Greek has not turned you off read on to find out how you can create your own ekphrastic poetry and how you can actually make money selling your poetry and ekphrastic works of art.

How Can I Write an Ekphrastic Poem I am No William Blake!

So you say. Well the good news is that you do not have to be William Blake to create an ekphrastic poem. Most poets base their ekphrastic poetry on ancient works of visual art or paintings done by other artists. Some even base them on photographs. So no, you don't have to draw your own illustrations. Now on writing poems there is lots of information out there on how to write poetry and lots of rules. I belong to the school of thought that believes in free verse. So based on my principles of freedom I simply write poetry for enjoyment and to express myself however, feel free to abide by the rules that govern writing different styles of poetry. I truly hope that my former English college professor is not reading this lens. Right, having gotten that out of the way that means just about any of you can write an ekphrastic poem, will it be any good? Well let us leave that to others to decide, this lens is about expressing yourself. So how do you write an ekphrastic poem? Here are some nice simple steps taken from the article: "How To Write an Ekphrastic Poem".

Step 1: Read Examples: Read examples of ekphrastic poems so that you know if you are on the right track. I have already given you one example, The Tyger by William Blake, but since you are no William Blake here is a lovely "example of ekphrastic poetry" written by a college student named Alice, the poem is titled "The Evaluation". I have also made a few attempts at ekphrastic poetry (and intend to make even more) some of which you may see at my poetry and art blog. If you are really daring and talented you can write an epic ekphrastic poem along the lines of the ancient masters as cited in this article on ekphrasis.

Step 2: Get Inspired: Look for a painting, photograph, sculpture or any other work of art that brings out strong feelings in you. It has to be an art piece that you react to since your poem is basically going to consist of describing your reaction to the art piece. You can take a trip to the museum or browse online for paintings by the ancient masters. Just make sure that you do not violate the copyright notices on works of art that you use for your poem. For those of you who are artistically inclined consider using your own painting or drawing.

Step 3: Observe and Take Notes: Write down your reactions to the artwork. Just write what comes to mind as you observe the piece of art. What story do you think the piece of art is telling, how does it make you feel, how does it look? These are some points to consider. The ekphrastic poem can be as simple as a basic description of the piece of art for example, the colors in the art piece and what you associate them with. Remember that as you describe the piece you must paint the image of the original art piece in the reader's mind. You can also tell a story about the art piece.

Step 4: Decide what style of poetry you want to use: Will it be Haiku, epic or my favorite free verse. Of course I would go with free verse but the choice is up to you. Look at poems in your chosen style and write along those lines. Or if you are like me just write and pay no attention to the rules, but at least make sure it looks and sounds like a poem. Read it out loud to yourself.

Step 5: Write the poem and attach the artwork: Write the poem, read it out to yourself and make sure it flows. Then attach the poem to the work of art you used to develop it and give all the proper credit where it is due and voila you are done. That was easy wasn't it.

How to Make Money Writing Poetry and Creating Bountiful Art Products

Well here are a few things you could do with your ekphrastic poetry (or any poetry for that matter), some may make you money others are guaranteed not to.

1. Give it to your mother. Mothers think everything their children create is beautiful.

2. Give it to your husband or wife: if they know what's good for them they will say it's beautiful.

3. Frame it and put it up in your house somewhere so your friends can tell you how talented you are.

4. Share it with the world and make no money by submitting it to poetry websites or ezines.

5. Share it with the world and make money blogging with your own monetized poetry blog.

6. If you have enough talent in you consider creating a collection of ekphrastic poems and publishing your own poetry book. You can self-publish for free at and then sell your poetry book and make some money from your poetry. Don't lose heart if nobody buys your work, you could always buy copies and give them to your mother, family and friends.They will make you think you are talented even if no one else will.

7. You can also make money with your poetry by adding it to art products. I know we poets do it for love not money, but why pass up an opportunity to make extra money in these lean and hard times. So if you think you have created a great piece of art and if you have resolved all the copyright issues consider selling your poetry as an art product on You can turn it into an art poster or art print or put it on many other products. Personally I would stick to the posters and art prints but it's your creation so do what you want with it.

8. Create and sell greeting cards. You can do this at or GreetingCardUniverse.

9. Last but not least consider posting your poetry at websites with revenue sharing structures such as Hubpages. Once you join Squidoo and Hubpages you can make money writing on any topic of your choice including your poetry. They also give you an opportunity to get some feedback and exposure for your poetry.

10. You can find more tips on how to earn money from your poetry here. You can also find great tips on publishing your poetry and earning an income from your poetry in the Writers and Artists Yearbook which you can find in your local library or at I have an old 2005 version and it still comes in handy.

So those are just a few tips on how to make money writing poetry, of course you could always lead the more romantic but frugal life of a starving artist and just do it for love and glory.

So Where Can I Buy Great Ekphrastic Poetry and Art

Now that you know all about ekphrasis you may be interested in buying ekphrastic poetry and works of art (other than your own of course). So if you would like to buy them try shopping at or where you can find giclee art prints featuring the art and poetry of William Blake and other artists. Simply type in a search for the poet or poem that you are interested in and you will get a selection of posters or art prints of well-known poets. If you would like to purchase poetry and art products of less known poets try For those of you who like to read (if you got to the end of this lens you fall into that category) you can find ekphrastic poetry books at

Image Courtesy of: William Blake Poison Tree,

Famous Dead Poets at Amazon

Will you be one of the poets that gain fame only after their death or will you be so lucky as to enjoy fame and wealth while you still dwell upon these earthly shores? Only you can decide that, but in the meantime here is food for thought from some of the most famous poets ever known.

Balancing Act African Womens Art by Injete
Balancing Act African Womens Art by Injete

Examples of Ekphrastic Poetry By Me

Balancing Act

A Poem for Working Mothers by Injete Chesoni

How does she do it

Live in so many worlds

How does she do it

Play so many roles

Like a well trained performer

Showing off her art

She brilliantly performs

This balancing act.

Shadows of Doubt Poetry Art by Injete
Shadows of Doubt Poetry Art by Injete

Shadows of Doubt


What is real

and what is an image

When we stand naked before the world

do we show our real selves

or is our true self

consistently hidden in shadows of doubt

How can our true beauty be revealed

if it is cloaked in appearances

Perhaps when we go to the place of nothingness

our true beauty will emerge


Poetry Art by Injete Chesoni

Devil in a Red Dress Poetry Art by Injete
Devil in a Red Dress Poetry Art by Injete

Devil in A Red Dress


Her hair entices you.

Her hips seduce you.

Her backside confuses you.

Her sway draws you.


When you walk with her

you walk in fields of fire.

When you lay with her

the flames lick your body.

When you join with her

you are left a pile of ash.


Permission to Use My Great Artwork for Non-Commercial Purposes Only

Copyright Notice - You may use this work for non-commercial purposes as long as you credit the artist Injete Chesoni and include a link to her website

Please leave your flattery, glowing tributes, lines of poetry and whatsoever you wish in this space as long as you keep it brief, no epic poems are allowed here. You can show your further approval by rating this lens. Thanks for visiting.

Flattery and Glowing Tributes

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    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Hey!Yeah, Marlowe was a character. Apparently (according to many anouccts), VERY out as a gay man, very flamboyant, very much a favorite of the queen, but killed (some say exiled in secret) because of some reason I honestly don't remember.That's a GREAT line you are so right, Shakespeare was indeed excellent with the dark humor.If you like MacBeth you MUST SEE THIS MOVIE: Scotland, PA. I can't BELIEVE I get to recommend this movie to someone who actually knows AND loves MacBeth, after all the other people I've forced to sit through the movie. It is BRILLIANT. Simply brilliant sets the play in the 1970s in a fast food place. Really wickedly funny, very well done.Me, I have liked Shakespeare since I first read him in high school, liked him even more in college (thanks especially to a couple of FABULOUS teachers who really brought him to life), more when I saw a few of the movie adaptations of his plays, and then, when I taught high school English myself, even MORE because I read his stuff over and over and over and it never got old, just deeper and deeper.I think for me, Shakespeare was amazing because of his insights into the minds of people. Even today, we can still relate to so many of the themes he explored, as well as HOW he explored them that sort of timelessness is incredibly difficult to pull off, especially when the writing itself is just so gorgeous.That's a short version of my unhealthy love for Shakespeare (which is a very funny way to put that, by the way). :-)Miriam

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Thank you for introducing me to a word I had not heard before, and for writing such a lovely and thoughtful lens about poetry. If I were an official squid angel I would bless this lens.

    • John Dyhouse profile image

      John Dyhouse 

      6 years ago from UK

      Very interesting and useful information, including the hub-pages articles on making money with poetry.

    • Mohan Thulasingam profile image

      Mohan Thulasingam 

      6 years ago

      Good Work really.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the flow of words in your poetry. Thank you for letting them flow to us.

    • Injete profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      @efriedman: Hi "efriedman," glad you learned something new. I had been doing ekphrastic poetry for a while and I had no idea there was a whole genre around it.

    • efriedman profile image


      7 years ago

      Ekphrasis is a new term for me, interesting concept to tie two types of art together.

    • Titia profile image

      Titia Geertman 

      8 years ago from Waterlandkerkje - The Netherlands

      Ha, that's what I've been doing almost all my life, writing poetry to my own photography. I've published 5 books so far. Only I call my creations 'Rhyming Images'.

      Just made a lens about it "my_books"

      Love your lens, I'll favorite it (and rate it of course).

    • Injete profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @BarbaraCasey: Hi Barbara, glad to have been of use. I would love to see your lens when it is done please post the link here.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      You gave me a nifty lens idea, thanks. I have loads of writing, a few pretty good photos and recently found some wonderful art at All Posters. Now to tie them all together.

    • Injete profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @lilmuchang1: Hi Lil yes you can :-) Good luck.

    • lilmuchang1 profile image


      8 years ago

      i've never known that we could get self published on the internet. thank you for the information :)

    • Injete profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago

      @Lady Lorelei: Hello Ladymermaid thanks for the blessings :-) and I am glad you enjoyed my lens.

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 

      8 years ago from Canada

      I am so glad that I stumbled onto your beautiful and thought provoking article. Blessed by a squid angel this morning and featured at: Angel Blessings 2010. Have a wonderful day :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      @anonymous: Hi Joyce thanks for visiting your new book sounds interesting.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Check out the new book with Ekphrastic Poety, Sculpting the Heart's Poetry, while Conversing with the Masters. The author, Joyce White, walks with Picasso, Van Gagh, and others, discussing with their most famous works of art like Starry Nite, The Birth of Venus, and others. Imaginative, funny and informative. Great Ekphrastic styled Poetry.

    • Injete profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Hi Jaktraks thanks for visiting and glad you enjoyed the lens.

    • JakTraks profile image

      Jacqueline Marshall 

      9 years ago from Chicago area

      Nice introduction to ekphrastic verse!!


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