The Girl Who Talked to Paintings

Interview with Shannon K. Winston, Author of Threads Give Way – The Bees  Knees Blog

THE BOOK: The Girl Who Talked to Paintings.


THE AUTHOR: Shannon K. Winston


THE PUBLISHER: Glass Lyre Press

SUMMARY: The Girl Who Talked to Paintings is an ekphrastic collection that conceives of ekphrasis as a type of translation: as a movement between images and words, as well as between lived and imagined experiences. These poems dramatize visual art personas who come alive and become confidants for speakers who are too timid to express themselves otherwise. Artwork becomes an entry point and a catalyst for self-exploration and self-discovery. At its core, The Girl Who Talked to Paintings explores many intertwined themes, including gender and sexuality, family, loss, and language.

THE BACK STORY: When I started writing The Girl Who Talked to Paintings, I was invested in thinking about speakers who have trouble expressing themselves for a variety of reasons, including childhood trauma, timidity, sexuality, etc. I thought: What if, instead of confiding in imaginary friends, the speakers confided in paintings and other artwork? This question undergirds this book.

WHY THIS TITLE: These poems dramatize visual art personas who come alive and become confidants for speakers who are too timid to express themselves otherwise. Speakers talk to paintings and vice versa, hence the title.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: I hope that this book appeals to poetry and art lovers alike. Many of the poems take on LGBTQ, gender, and sexuality themes. There are also many poems that explore language and word play.


“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

AUTHOR PROFILE: Shannon K. Winston’s poems have appeared in RHINO, Crab Creek Review, The Citron Review, the Los Angeles Review, Zone 3, and elsewhere. Her work has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes and several times for the Best of the Net. Her poetry collection, The Girl Who Talked to Paintings, was recently published by Glass Lyre Press. She currently lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Find her here:

AUTHOR COMMENTS: My aim, in writing this collection, was for people to become immersed in both poetry and art.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Select poems from the collection are featured on my author website:

LOCAL OUTLETS: Labyrinth Books

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:,,, or from your favorite local bookstore.

PRICE: $16.00


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Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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