Nigel Kent’s collection of ekphrastic poems, Unmuted (Hedgehog Poetry Press), is inspired by a gallery of famous works by artists from the present and the past. Each artwork acts as a frame in a storyboard which he unfreezes and unmutes to reveal the narrative he imagines lies behind it. Even for those who have no interest in art these direct, accessible and moving poems will stand alone and promise to engage with issues that truly matter.
Here’s what they’re saying about Unmuted.
“A book of ekphrastic poetry but not always direct descriptions of art…These poems take visual art as an inspiration but soon lead us off into other worlds. Tangential connections are made and where we begin is never where we complete the journey of the poems. The poems stand in their own right and viewing the art that inspired them adds to the poetry and gives a fascinating insight into the poet as a creative force. Kent’s poetry is succinct, never bloated and always delivered with a poignant and very human point of view.”
Piss Bliss, Dreich Broad No.3
“With a gifted painter’s deft touch coupled with an awareness that every brush stroke matters, Nigel Kent’s ekphrastic poems are a masterclass in the use of telling detail. Each poem stands alone without need of the artwork that inspired it, and reading the pamphlet is as enriching as visiting a gallery, a feast for all the senses. Whether telling stories, exploring philosophical ideas, or interrogating the nature of art itself these poems, by a poet of great range and skill, are captivating, immersive and transportive.”
Anna Saunders, author of ‘Feverfew’.
“In Unmuted Nigel Kent guides the reader through an eclectic virtual gallery. The works of art that Kent writes to are a mix of obscure, surprising, classic and satisfying. He captures each piece in poems that are as vivid and colourful as the art itself, successfully bringing each work of art to life. Not only does he introduce you to works and artists that you could easily never encounter, he also entices you to head off to find each piece of art and savour its glory. With this collection Kent puts himself in the frame with the masters that he has written to, giving each a new voice. Never mind unmuted, these poems shout at you with their vision, form and craft; and just as you would give a masterpiece pride of place on your wall, you will give this collection a prime position upon your bookshelf.”
Darren J Beaney, author of ‘The Machinery of Life’
“If the hands of the past were to reach out and shine a light on our modern lives, this collection of poems is what they would have to say. Nigel Kent has gathered together the muse of antiquity, the craft of classical poets and the inspiration of visual artists, both old and new, and forged something truly breath-taking.”
Steve Cawte, Editor of ‘Impspired’
“When viewers, or even the artists themselves attempt to describe or contextualise art, their responses can be self conscious, predictable and mawkish. What Nigel Kent has achieved through a very personal response to these selected works is a profoundly broader human context. These poems contrast as wildly as the artefacts themselves, every one containing a sensitively observed exploration of the human condition with a narrative that is often dark but never loses its compassion or empathy. Nigel Kent breathes new life into each artwork without stealing the mystery of its original intention – whatever that may be.”
Stephen Belinfante, artist.
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Checkout the artworks which inspired the poems by clicking on its title:
Mother and child after Jenny Saville
The piano lesson after Henri Matisse
The Brontë sisters after Branwell Brontë
Woman weeping after Pablo Picasso
The bus riders after George Segal
Above the city after Marc Chagall
The lovers after René Magritte
Everyone I have ever slept with 1963-1995 after Tracey Emin
Woman in blue reading a letter after Jan Vemeer
The awakening conscience after Holman Hunt
Le violon d’Ingres after Man Ray
Waiting (the Chaperone) after Edgar Degas
Stag at Starkey’s after George Bellows
The art critic after Raoul Hausmann
Portrait of Sylvia Von Harden after Otto Dix
American Gothic after Duncan Wood
Girl at the mirror after Norman Rockwell
Untitled film still #27 after Cindy Sherman
Third-class carriage after Honoré Daumier
An iron forge after Joseph Wright
Head of a miner after Joseph Herman
Coming from the mill after L.S.Lowry
Christina’s world after Andrew Wyeth
Ophelia after John Everett Millais