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Imaginary Museum: Poems on Art

by Joseph Stanton


Rousseau's Sleeping Gypsy

Henri has wrapped his gypsy
in a dream of many colors,
stripes of pleated gauze, gleaming.

Above and beyond he makes
the silence a place, dark blue
but punctured by light.

A white-faced mask floats,
smiling, over a beige and ocher
undulation of desert.

At the center of this silence,
where sky and sand devise a horizon,
a browned brooding of violence

appears: a shadow carnivore
breathing the edge of sleep,
a ceramic emblem of devouring

who will soundlessly pass on,
leaving the toy-doll gypsy,
her tightly tuned tan mandolin

and orange jar of night-cooled air
to whatever music the stars
can, unwittingly, prepare.



Imaginary Museum does more than conjure pre-existing works of art. Through the alchemy of language it offers another view — the complexity of another mind deepening our gaze: the simultaneous apprehension of landscapes internal and external merging in shimmering form.
— Cathy Song, author of School Figures

I know no other volume that has undertaken as ambitious a course as Joseph Stanton's Imaginary Museum, a veritable Prado of Poems. It is most attractive . . . in its loving concentration on individual paintings. . . . It is a work deserving of repeated visits.
— Theodore Weiss, founder and former editor of Quarterly Review of Literature

Joseph Stanton has organized this outstanding collection . . . as if it were a museum tour. He enters the space of artifact after artifact, filling his poems with story. . . . Imaginary Museum...is a stunning collection of lyrical poetry.
— Laverne and Carol Frith, editors of Ekphrasis

Joseph Stanton's poems on art . . . convey a narrative inspired by, not imposed upon, the visible stories. They are poems of mood and meditation, and they make you want to look at the paintings again and read these wonderful poems again and again.
— Tony Quagliano, former editor of Kaimana

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