Under the Influence: Musings on Poems and Paintings by Kim Baker



“[…] I want to step on the hot lava full of unrestraint […]”

Kim Baker‘s exuberant warmth infuses these conversations and dances with other artists.

“[…] I knew exactly what was going on,
and all my trap doors would fly open […]”

Share in her joy.

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]


“Oh, oh, my God,” my constant refrain to Kim Baker’s amazing poems, which I savored bite by delicious bite. What an honor to the artists Kim chose to render. I’d become an artist just to beg Kim to write me a poem!!

–Julie Hassett


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]


Kim Baker does more than reflect art in her ekphrastic poetry. She builds lines, she uses language that surprises: “There’s just no accounting for violence/or the way it charms you like a snake…” (Violence: Inspired by Jane Kenyon’s ‘Happiness’) and “If only they had a car/not wrecked when he looked away to adore her hair,/moonlight shading it the color of persimmons…” (After the Funeral with Edward Hopper’s Night Hawks, Oil on Canvas by Edward Hopper).


Baker, playwright as well as poet, melds narrative and meditation in response to poetry and paintings and photographs like Seth Jacobson’s ‘Night’s Necklace’ which inspired Baker’s ‘Xanadu Dreams.’ (Last year, an excellent exhibit at Roger Williams University paired Baker’s ekphrastic poetry with Jacobson’s photographs.) ). ‘When Angel Comes: Inspired by ‘When Death Comes’ by Mary Oliver’ is one of the narrative meditations on angels: “I want to step on the hot lava full of unrestraint…/When Angel comes, I want to say: all my life was birth,…/I was the birth mother of music and verse and myself…”


In this beautiful chapbook, Kim Baker brings new life to ekphrasis, an old technique, and brings us under the influence of her poetry.


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]


This being my first owned book of poetry , I hesitated that I would experience the true meaning of its meaning.

Kim’s book was not only eloquently written , but motivating, and I felt a sense of the embrace meant while reading each poem.

I was never without question to what she was alluding to.

–Debbie Buono


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]


Last night I finished reading ‘Under the Influence” and found it to be BRILLIANT! This is worth a second and third read if not more. HATS OFF TO YOU!

–Carol Kogut


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]


Read about Kim’s poetic journey:


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]


Kim Baker gives us the richness and intensity of twice-baked goods in this collection of poems. Using the ekphrasis poem to recreate creative work into words, she double-douses us with clarity. Her words work like bold brushstrokes, like allspice, like drums, to crisscross our senses. As in her description of The First Venus: They could not believe / I have no weapon. / So they took my arms, she turns her vision into our visceral, to the deeply experienced part of our consciousness. She visualizes the crow’s cemetery eyes, imagining them to become black rapture. She sees and then allows us to see a turtle become an oyster but with a clandestine head / with which to contemplate the future. She has mastered the ekphrasis poem with its capacity to expand the vision of one artist through the vision of another, and we are richer for it. Baker takes us deep into what she reminds us is our one irreplaceable life.
–Barbara Schweitzer, author of 33 1/3: Soap Opera Sonnets


Kim Baker’s Under the Influence is a lovely engagement on the part of a generous, openhearted, and smart poet with the art of others, both visual and poetic. The poems contained in this volume share the pleasure of the imagination in conversation with others’ visions as well as the sheer joy of painting with language in their rich, mouthfuls of sounds, their color and flow. “These blue daisies line my abundance,” Baker writes, and I can only be glad for the bounty.
–Cathleen Calbert, author of Lessons in Space, Bad Judgment, and Sleeping with a Famous Poet


The connoisseur of painting or photography who will “step off the cliff of decision” and buy and read Under the Influence will find in Kim M. Baker one who knows both how to look, and what to look for: “hair black as intent,” “too-much-make-up caked on razor-sharp faces,” an implicit narrative in one’s resistance to opening an oyster. Yet Baker is always under the influence of sound—“the wax of their black rapture,” “Wheatfield with Crows glowing gold.”) She is a connoisseur of poetry—even, or especially—when it is enthralled by an artist’s vision.
–Daniel Bosch, poet and poetry critic


Kim Baker‘s poetry was my introduction to a poet’s response to paintings. Her writing expands the experience of art beyond the walls of the gallery and into the psyche and heart. This addition to the art experience allows some who aren’t visual to enjoy the spirit that the artist shares in her craft.
–Kathryn H. Greene, Director, Greene Art Gallery, Guilford, CT


Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]



Under the Influence: Musings on Poems and Paintings

by Kim M. Baker

$14, paper

When she isn’t teaching the abundant virtues of the comma at Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol, RI or writing about big hair and Elvis, Kim works to end violence against women. Kim performs in the annual Until the Violence Stops Festival Rhode Island. Her poems have been published online and in print, winning Honorable Mention and Fourth Place in national poetry contests. Kim’s essays have been broadcast on This I Believe, NPR Rhode Island, and two plays have been stage read at Culture*Park in New Bedford, Massachusetts, about a middle-aged female survivor of childhood sexual assault and about a senior losing her battle with cancer but not losing her sense of humor. Kim’s love affair with ekphrasis, poetry about art, continues as she looks for stories about and portrayals of women in the paintings of female artists for a new chapbook. “Ekphrasis is not simply a description, but a reimagining, a new beginning, creating a circle of art, not a straight line or an end point. And ekphrastic poets keep the conversation going long after the art exhibit or poetry reading is over, creating a new work of art about a work of art.” Kim lives with her wife and diva cat in Oakland Beach, Rhode Island, and she can be reached at bighairedpoet@gmail.com.


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