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Author Biography


Articles & Reviews

Lifelines: Poems for Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper

poems by Joseph Stanton

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Listen to this interview of the author with Catherine Cruz
on Hawaiʻi Public Radio (April 9, 2024).

Joseph Stanton, author of this impressive collection of poems, is a masterful practitioner of art-inspired poetry. His commitment to the ekphrastic genre is evident in Lifelines: Poems for Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper, his eighth collection of poems. The chronological presentation of poems inspired by the works of Homer and Hopper serves to capture the trajectory of each artist’s life and career and unlocks the secrets of many of their most intriguing images.

POETRY / General

ISBN: 978-1-956056-89-1 (print; softcover; perfect bound)

LCCN: 2023938873

Released June 20, 2023; Copyright 2023

156 pages

Author Biography

Joseph Stanton’s previous books of poems are Prevailing Winds, Moving Pictures, Things Seen, Imaginary Museum: Poems on Art, A Field Guide to the Wildlife of Suburban O‘ahu, Cardinal Points, and What the Kite Thinks: A Linked Poem (co-authored with Makoto Ōoka, Wing Tek Lum, and Jean Toyama). His other books include Looking for Edward Gorey, The Important Books: Children’s Picture Books as Art and Literature, and Stan Musial: A Biography. His poems have appeared in Poetry, New Letters, Harvard Review, Antioch Review, New York Quarterly, and many other magazines. As an art historian, Stanton has written about Winslow Homer, Edward Hopper, Edward Gorey, Maurice Sendak, and other American artists. He has collaborated with artists, musicians, and other writers, and has received many awards for his work, including the Tony Quagliano International Poetry Award, the Cades Award for Literature, and the Ekphrasis Prize. Professor Emeritus of Art History and American Studies at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, he continues to teach in varied settings, most recently teaching the Starting with Art poetry workshop at Poets House in New York City and at the Honolulu Museum of Art.



“As Joseph Stanton well knows and has demonstrated in his various books of ekphrastic poetry, paintings speak. All one has to do is listen. In the poems in this volume, the paintings of Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper speak powerful messages on war, nature, the situations of women, the city, life, love, and death—all to the benefit of the artists and the readers of this impressive book that celebrates both paintings and poetry.”
—Robert Hamblin, author of Myself and the World: A Biography of William Faulkner

“Joseph Stanton is one of America’s most accomplished ekphrastic poets, and in the work of Hopper and Homer he has found subjects that nourish his observant eye and capture his nuanced ear.”
—Richard Wendorf, Director Emeritus of the Boston Athenaeum, author of The Elements of Life: Biography and Portrait Painting

“Edward Hopper’s paintings have long engaged poets, just as poetry—from Verlaine to Frost—engaged Hopper. Joseph Stanton’s poems not only relate to what Hopper painted, but also to the painter’s biography. These evocative poems take the reader closer to the essence of Hopper’s images and even sometimes to his feisty relationship with his wife, Jo. Hopper himself would not have minded being paired with poems about Winslow Homer, an artist whom he admired.”
—Gail Levin, author of Edward Hopper: An Intimate Biography

“As both an art historian and a poet, Joseph Stanton brings a unique perspective to bear on his thinking about works of art. He has written on a wide range of historic and contemporary art . . . In Lifelines: Poems for Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper, Stanton continues to create imaginary exhibitions in literary museums whose contents juxtapose images and provoke ideas. In this installment he focuses on two classic American painters: Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper. Drawing upon his professional experience and aesthetic sense, Stanton gives voice to these silent works of visual art. The poems not only complement each other, but illuminate and deepen our understanding of the paintings. Adding to these reflections on our everyday world are observations regarding the psychology of a simple setting. Whether there are isolated figures sitting in a late-night diner, or a young whippersnapper trailing at the end of a crack-the-whip game, an undeniable tension comes into play. It is this tension, both plastic and poetic, that gives Joseph Stanton’s work its unique importance.”
—Richard Emery Nickolson, artist and author of the blog Bridging the Gap: Reflections on the Plastic and Ekphrastic Traditions

“Taking imaginative leaps into the pictures of celebrated American artists Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper, Joseph Stanton pens poems that offer unique revelations about them. Moving through each artist’s career one work at a time, roughly in the order they were created, he opens new windows onto their visual imagery with his prescient observations and exquisitely crafted lines. Interpretations of pictorial details lead him to suggest absences and yearnings in their personal lives, which can be intriguing—though tricky—given that both attempted to thwart any invasion of their privacy. Homer’s bachelor life, fishing and hunting, between the Civil War and the Spanish American War is differentiated by subtle shifts in vocabulary and poetic style from Hopper’s twentieth century primarily urban existence and his complex relationship with his wife, Jo. Stanton’s skillful wielding of the ekphrastic stance brings alternative perspectives to the ‘so-long-lonely Winslow’ and Hopper, ‘Puritan by birth, sensualist at heart.’ Both seasoned readers of the burgeoning literature on these two revered figures and those just discovering them will be inspired by Lifelines.”
—Katherine Manthorne, author of Film and Modern American Art: The Dialogue Between Cinema and Painting

Lifelines: Poems for Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper develops unexpectedly, like a story, in chronological order, year by year—until the pattern is disrupted. The poems are in the tradition of ekphrasis, with their individual focuses on specific works of art, while taken together they create a kind of art history in/as poetry. The values of the artists’ times, not of ours, come to life. Recurring themes of humor, wit, and games are woven throughout the Winslow Homer poems, then echoed in a few of the Edward Hopper poems, including, significantly, the concluding poem, ‘Two Comedians, 1965’ This structure, together with Joseph Stanton’s, deceptively simple, lucid descriptions throughout, offer a unique vision of how two artists explored life, love, and mortality.”
—Reva Wolf, author of Andy Warhol, Poetry, and Gossip in the 1960s

“Joseph Stanton’s Lifelines: Poems for Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper trains a keen, informed eye on two iconic American painters, one of them gregarious, bountiful, and engaged, the other enigmatic and distanced. The Winslow Homer poems constitute both a minibiography of the painter and a series of glimpses into American life in the last half of the nineteenth century. With the Hopper poems we enter a changed America, a lapsed world following the Edenic land that Homer registered so vividly. The sparely framed Hopper poems echo the artist’s vision of American loneliness, ennui, and unrealized dreams. After reading Lifelines, we will forever view these artists through a different lens.”
—Richard Tillinghast, author of Blue If Only I Could Tell You

“A Joseph Stanton collection is always cause for celebration, and this rich poetic examination of two enigmatic American artists is a rich addition to the ekphrastic world. Stanton looks confidently at canvas after canvas, reading scenes and symbols, as well as angles and frames and colors and compositions. Art is a language he speaks fluently as a scholar, and through this poetry he is an artist himself.”
—Lorette Luzajic, editor of The Ekphrastic Review

“These are indeed lifelines—poems covering almost forty years of Homer’s paintings and a half-century of Hopper’s. Over decades, Joseph Stanton has studied the lives and works of these two artists and written poems about them. What strikes this reader is the shape of the book, both of each half and of the book as a whole. It is uncanny how poems written at different times, but now arranged by the chronology of the paintings, connect each with the next in a kind of natural order. With poet Joseph Stanton as our guide, we can enter into the minds and hearts of these two iconic American artists to see what they see—Homer’s natural and human landscapes, Hopper’s haunting light and absences—whether or not we have the images in front of us.”
—Sue Cowing, author of Call Me Drog

“In his exquisite new collection of poems, Joseph Stanton brings together the worlds of Homer and Hopper, providing every ‘stilled moment’ with a narrative that springs from a deep understanding of both artists, filling sparse rooms and embattled landscapes with life beyond the canvas. Stanton begins his poem on Homer’s Artists Sketching in the White Mountains with the line ‘Landscape artists must be part of what they see.’ The same might be said for ekphrastic poets and, by this measure alone, Stanton never disappoints.”
—Valerie Robillard, author of The Ekphrastic Moment in the Poetry of William Carlos Williams

“In Lifelines: Poems for Winslow Homer and Edward Hopper, Stanton’s poems deftly explore visual and thematic clues left by artists Homer and Hopper, and result in fascinating and thought-provoking narratives. His extensive art historical knowledge and creative imagination combined with descriptive language work to immerse the reader in a specific place or moment in time. Stanton is able to access imagined inner thoughts, explore psychological undercurrents, and heighten the expressive mood portrayed in the artworks. This collection of poems makes for an inspiring read that will intrigue both the casual fan and the connoisseur of art history, painting, and poetry.”
—Katherine Love, artist and Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art Honolulu Museum of Art

Articles and Reviews

Peter Rosegg, “Aiea Author Writes Poetry to Inspire,” MidWeek (April 17, 2024)

“A poet who writes about visual art must bring to it perceptions and revelations of his or her own. This book, being that way, points to the sky. It says to the reader: Look up.”
Robert Stewart, “Not for Nostalgia” (review), New Letters

Recommendation from The Ekphrastic Review (September 9, 2023)

Kenneth Salzmann, “Edward Hopper’s New York Movie, ” How to Grow a Poem (July 22, 2023)

Valerie Robillard, The Poetry of Joseph Stanton: Words Meet Images (September 20, 2021)

Lorette Luzajic, Ekphrastic Interview with Joseph Stanton” (July 6, 2019)


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