The Grace of Gazing Inward by Chuck Salmons


Poems in Response to the Art of Alice Carpenter

The modern ekphrastic poems in The Grace of Gazing Inward seek to engage in a conversation with artwork created by Alice Carpenter ( Each poem responds to a particular monotype, an artform that incorporates aspects of painting and printmaking. Most of Carpenter’s monotypes, which are printed alongside their respective poems, are very small (typically a few square inches) and very detailed landscapes where the moon is prominent. Through highly lyrical poems, Salmons considers such questions as identity, human relationships with nature and each other, and the nature of art. Each poem reflects, in form and content, the monotype it speaks to using fresh imagery, lines of brevity, and concise, spare language.


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 64
  • Language: English
  • Date Published: April 2024
  • ISBN   978-1-962847-03-2


Maybe the most intriguing part of my work is what the viewer brings to it, interpreting image through individual experiences. Through this selection of dazzling, thought-provoking poems, Chuck shares with us a gift of beautiful fragility. —Alice Carpenter 

“Given the choice, how would you enter the space,” asks poet Chuck Salmons in his transcendent collection of ekphrastic poetry The Grace of Gazing Inward. Each poem is a skillful blend of observation, reverence, wonder and whispers, tight with insights that linger. The art is the words, the words are the art, at some point one easily loses track of which may have come first. Salmons has a gift for meter and turning a poem in adroitly ingenious directions, a poet who looks beyond the frame to consider what might exist “out by the hard edge of the world.” This book is one to sit with, contemplate, savor. —Kari Gunter-Seymour

Ekphrastic poems are conversations between art forms, and in Chuck Salmons’ The Grace of Gazing Inward that dialogue with the art of Alice Carpenter echoes with the power of Zen koans. Salmons offers readers “an invitation / to doubt” in poems that embrace questions more readily than answers as they traverse multiple landscapes cautioning us to be “wary of what is real / and what is reflection.” His poems recognize that each of us moves through “days tinctured with uncertainty” regardless of whether in the physical world of mountain, lakes, and birds or the psychological terrain of our own minds, and that this not knowing is worth embracing. In poems spare but not light, sharp images from the natural world pulse with wonder, hope and “a song / of promise in starlight we share.” I appreciate how Salmons’ entire collection lodges somewhere between the brain and the heart, and in that space it takes hold in a way that rewards multiple re-readings. —Steve Abbott

Poet Chuck Salmons has an internal divining rod which draws him to ekphrasis. “Conversing with the Unspoken,” as he titled a recent workshop he conducted on the subject, nourishes him.

In this new collection, Salmons probes into what lingers in Alice Carpenter’s shadows with a sense of wonder and meditation, the kind of slow and deep looking that traverses both the interior and exterior.

From memories of the teachings from his pious Baptist grandparents to an uncle slaughtering a hen for a country meal, Salmons summons the personal into the ekphrastic. He also braids so many lyrical phrases to imagine the mystical flow of place that Carpenter’s monotypes suggest: “skin of violin notes,” “currency of starlight,” “silvery stillness and moonglow glaze,” “the shudder and thaw of a world in green.”

The visual abstraction of many of Carpenter’s pieces doesn’t deter Salmons one bit from crafting the presence of evocative specifics. As one of his poems expresses it—for this poet, “What space to enter comes easily…” —Rikki Santer


August Sturgeon Moon
monotype by Alice Carpenter, 2019

She hangs scumbled,
skulking in darkness,
her movement primitive
as a puma prowling.
It’s dread that lures us—
preying gloom embosses the night,
moon’s meager light
moving the eye
Let night be swallowed
up by premonitions, mimicry,
prehistory of a living fossil.
Let us close our eyes,
embrace a distrust of the familiar,
bathe in the savagery
of ink black summer heat.


Chuck SalmonsA native of Columbus, Ohio, Chuck Salmons is a poet and has served as part of the leadership for the Ohio Poetry Association for more than a decade. His poems have appeared in several journals and anthologies, including Chiron Review; Pudding Magazine; Evening Street Review; The Ekphrastic Review; Common Threads; The Fib Review; Shot Glass Journal; Everything Stops and Listens; Poets to Come: A Poetry Anthology, in honor of Walt Whitman’s bicentennial; and I Thought I Heard a Cardinal Sing: Ohio’s Appalachian Voices. He is the author of two previous chapbooks, Stargazer Suite (11thour Press, 2016) and Patch Job (NightBallet Press, 2017).

He won the 2011 William Redding Memorial Poetry Contest, sponsored by The Poetry Forum of Columbus, has garnered awards from Ohio Poetry Day, and is a recipient of a 2018 Ohio Arts Council Individual Excellence Award for his poetry. Chuck regularly gives readings throughout Ohio, both solo and as part of the poetry trio Concrete Wink (with Sandra Feen and Rikki Santer), including the Columbus Arts Festival, the Winter Solstice Poetry Reading in Yellow Springs, and the Sun & Moon Poetry Festival.

Chuck leads workshops for various groups and audiences. And his poetry has been exhibited artistically in several places, including three features for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources “Art in the Lobby” program and in the 2021 After Hours exhibition at the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery in Columbus.

Chuck has worked in a variety of fields, including construction, education, and retail. He loves science, which often influences his poems, and works as Communications Manager at the Ohio Geological Survey. Learn more at his website:


Alice CarpenterAlice Carpenter, printmaker and painter, has devoted her printmaking practice to the monotype since 2014. Her monotypes have received recognition in numerous regional juried exhibitions, as well as national juried shows, including The Butler Institute of American Art 85th National Midyear Exhibition, Director’s Award 2021. Recently, she was honored to have two of her monotypes selected and published in the Fall 2023 online Decoy Issue of The Harvard Advocate.

Her work often reflects the childhood nighttime magic she found growing up in rural Appalachian Ohio. After the past 50 years of “city living” in Columbus, Ohio, a recent move to Wallingford, Connecticut, has returned her to her rural roots.

Carpenter’s current works can be found on Instagram.

For more information about her work and exhibition history, visit

Additional information

Weight 4.7 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in