Art Inspired by Poetry

Is a picture worth a thousand words? The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is offering artists a chance to prove that by picking a poem that inspired them and creating some art.

Earlier this year, CVAC invited 12 well-known poets living on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands to compose poems on themes of interruption, isolation and invigoration. And now we are asking artists to read the poems, pick one, and then paint (or sculpt or draw) their interpretations. There are only four spots for each poem.

The resulting 48 art pieces will be included in a printed catalogue and also displayed in an art show called Ekphrastic Reversed. The writers include former poets-laureate from Nanaimo, Ladysmith, Tofino and Victoria (John Barton, Kamal Parmar, Naomi Wakan) and well-known names such as Lorna Crozier and Richard Osler.

Ek What? Ekphrastic means a “description” in Greek. An ekphrastic poem is colourfully written description of a piece of art. This can be anything from ancient poet Homer describing Achilles’s ornate shield in The Iliad to Ode to a Grecian Urn by John Keats. For this show, CVAC has reversed the process instead of words describing art, we plan to have art describing words. Ekphrastic Reversed!

What: Ekphrastic Reversed

An art and poetry show

Deadline to register: Aug. 31, 2022

Where to register: Read the poems and sign up here

Artists can choose a maximum of 2 poems, and only 4 artists will be accepted per poem.

Cost: $30

The show is scheduled for April 3 – May 1, 2023 in CVAC’s gallery.


The show is a new variation on Word and Vision, a CVAC tradition last shown in 2015. A variety of interpretations were encouraged (e.g., music, movement) to expand the visual art interpretations.