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Author Biography


Articles & Reviews

Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists

by James B. Nicola

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With his fourth full-length poetry collection, James B. Nicola takes his readers out of the theater and into the museum, the gallery, the studio, the cathedral, the dance hall, and the cinema, traveling all over the world and all through time. With over eighty poems and sixty full-color images of the world's finest art, this carefully curated volume is an album of highlights from the history of art as well as a celebration of the artist’s never-ending quest for both inspiration and immortality. Some poems pose questions as enigmatic and evocative as “Where does art/start?” while others spin the saga of the arts and artists through the ages. There is something for everyone: Botticelli and Bernini, Michelangelo and Monet, Pollock and Pygmalion, Renoir and Rodin, Astaire and Arbus, plus everything in between. A festive fusion of the verbal and the visual.
POETRY / General

ISBN: 978-1-947067-32-5 (print; softcover; perfect bound)
ISBN: 978-1-947067-33-2 (digital)

LCCN: 2018938002

Released 2018

180 pages

Author Biography

James B. Nicola’s poetry books are more than collections; each one takes the reader on a particular journey with a beginning, middle, and end. Manhat­tan Plaza (2014) “reads like a biography or memoir . . . with the thoughtfulness of an architect’s blueprint or a tour guide’s Baedeker,” according to Vermont Literary Review, while Great Weather for Media observes that Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016) “illustrates a life in the theatre, warts and all” and “would recommend [it] not only to readers . . . but also to poets who are interested in developing collections which follow a specific theme.”
Nicola’s individual poems have appeared stateside in the Antioch, Southwest, and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle, Tar River, and Poetry East, and in many journals in Europe and Canada. A Yale graduate, he won a Dana Literary Award, a Willow Review award, and a People’s Choice award (from Storyteller), and he was a featured poet at New Formalist. His nonfiction book, Playing the Audience, won a Choice award.

Following the tradition of poets Stanley Kunitz, Elizabeth Bishop, and Frank O’Hara, Nicola moved from his native Worcester, Massachusetts, to New York City, where he makes his home. Lately he has been conducting both theater and poetry workshops at libraries, literary festivals, schools, and community centers all over the country, most notably the Kennedy Center / American College Theater Festival.

Nicola is also a director, composer, lyricist, and playwright. His children’s musical Chimes: A Christmas Vaudeville premiered in Fairbanks, Alaska, where Santa Claus was rumored to be in the audience on opening night.


"James B. Nicola’s newest collection of poems paired with works of art gives us the best of both worlds. Sometimes graphic, sometimes surreal, the interweaving of word and image stretches our imagination and expands our vision of the world.  We understand our own humanity and creativity in new and unexpected ways.  Nicola takes us on a delightful journey through the past and the present with the panache of a very original poet.  A delight for the soul!"
­— B. Amore, artist, author, VIA (Voices in Italian Americana)

“Here we have one remarkable feat of imagination after another. James B. Nicola’s poems pulse with playful rhythms, then pause for contemplative study. If ever we needed proof for how looking at art can spark unexpected words, challenge our perspectives, and inspire us to new creation, here it is.”
— Lorette C. Luzajic, founding editor, The Ekphrastic Review

"In this collection of smart, witty, joyfully crafted and imaginatively illustrated poems, James B. Nicola not only celebrates the arts—all of them—but also reveals the core impulse they share, the psychic “large easel” on which they create the necessary shape that we all somehow sense 'life is meant to have.'

"Whether it’s a naked odalisque, dancers caught mid-step, a Greek torso, an oddly and erotically pensive Christian martyr, a dilapidated boot, an iconic bridge, a gargoyle, a war memorial, a dramatic performance, an architectural ruin, or a cellist absorbed in his instrument, everything these poems touch upon is made to speak, persuasively and with an individual voice, to reveal itself and, maybe, invite revelations from the reader/viewer.

"What a pleasure it is to read work that is so thoroughly in love with what it’s looking at, so appreciative of the human capacity to create artifacts at once useless and essential, thanks to some mysterious, invisible 'organ' apparently unique to our species! : a ‘part/Impossible to chart//Except as art.’ Or maybe not entirely 'useless,' since these artifacts seem determined to teach us, like the intricate stonework of a Gaelic cross, 'how to die as well as how to live.'

"The overall message of this rich collection is the maker’s joy itself: Long live the arts, separately, combined, or in conversation with each other; ephemeral and enduring; both intimate and as universal as communication gets!"
— Rhina P. Espaillat, poet

Articles and Reviews

Review by B Amore, Voices in Italian Americana, Spring 2018.

Review by Lena Fultz, The Loch Raven Review.

The Ekphrastic Review Talks with James B. Nicola on Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (5-25-2018)

New York Poet Travels the World and through Time to Write About Art and Artists (press release; 4-2-2018)


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