“As a visual writer, I’ve chosen Word Painting to describe what I do.”

My Word Paintings

There is much power in simplicity, and in my poetry, I work to capture moments of emotion and awareness directly and succinctly. My work intentionally plays to the senses; especially the visual, with color, texture and even the placement of words on the page. Rhythm, sound, alliteration and internal rhyme all play an important part in the process. I find my inspiration in personal experiences, others’ stories, the news, and especially in the worlds of nature and art. I am first and foremost a “passionate observer”, and I take great pleasure in sharing the inspired results of my observations.


Click on each book cover below to read more about the book on Amazon.

A memoir about a mother, a daughter, Alzheimers, and a changing relationship

Kantor is a minimalist when it comes to verse…no conceits. A poem, for her, is often the exploration of a single pared-down image, with no superfluous information or detail. The narrative forms like a necklace of beads, with the truly inspired images shining like gems. An evocative rendering of a complex relationship. ———- Kirkus Reviews


With an impressive candor and exceptional ability to craft poetry that touches the psyche as well as the heart, “Fading Into Focus” is a truly extraordinary read and one that will linger in the mind and memory long after it has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Absolutely recommended for personal reading lists, “Fading Into Focus” is certain to prove an enduringly popular addition to both community and academic collections as well.——Midwest Book Review, Small Press Bookwatch, Reviewer’s Choice

Book Trailer: Fading Into Focus

A transformational journey throughout The South to fill in the missing pages of African American History and gain a better understanding of the Black experience.

Joan’s poetry is open and honest. She urges all fellow citizens to seek out the truths of black history, both the progress and the pain, to dispel the myths and to confront the suffering. She acknowledges that this is just a beginning toward the even greater journey of making amends for centuries of black oppression.”


“Joan’s language is clean, unadorned, a scaffold for observation. She does not insult the subject by indulging in hyperbole or self-serving flourish. An unflinching journey of discovery. Searing, honest, unsparing.” — Virginia Shreve , Ct Beat Poet Laureate 2020-2022


“Powerful, Powerful, Powerful” The first line of “A Crumbling Facade” grabbed my heart…white tears for a black man.”—Voncille Wright, Dean of Students, Austin Community College

Book Trailer: Filling in the Black

This collaboration between two artists is the direct result of a serendipitous meeting of hearts and minds.


An eclectic collection of poetry about relationships, personal growth, nature, and art.

The deceptively simple poems of Shadow Sounds often carry a great weight lightly. In her deeply felt impressions of the natural world, in her honest explorations of the challenges and nuances of family relationships, and in her piercing snapshots of civilization’s darker sides, Joan Kantor removes the veil from her soul and shares it with us, in one striking phrase after another. –Steve Straight, author of The Water Carrier


In words which are few but carry delicious weight, Joan Kantor invites us to focus our senses. Haunting metaphors and juxtaposed thoughts energize our imagination. Kantor probes the very axis of relationships, as when she asks, “Will we still be friends / when her words / have outgrown mine?” She awakens our awareness with images that turn the mundane to magic: “cowlick-spiked” marsh grass, “a shiver of waves…” A deep read will be well rewarded. David Leff, author of The Price of Water


A memoir about surviving a legacy of mental illness.

I tried to squeeze a full life into the spaces between episodes of the illness.” Joan Kantor’s precise, poignant poems and revealing prose weave together an intimate portrait of the struggle to live a vibrant life despite the difficulties of mental illness. In her poem “Building Strength,” she refers to Kintsugi, the Japanese art of embracing damage. In the process of Kintsugi, gold dust is often mixed with the lacquer used in repair. The gold-filled cracks are striking aspects of the bowl’s unusual beauty. This is an apt metaphor for everyone who struggles with mental illness and its legacy. Holding It Together is a compelling read by a talented writer, and a valuable contribution to the literature of mental illness—-Ginny Connors, award winning poet, editor and publisher of Grayson Books

Book Trailer: Holding It Together

A collection focused on giving voice to the voiceless

In Too Close for Comfort, Joan Kantor speaks for those who all too often have no voices of their own. Her thought provoking work reminds us that we cannot close our eyes to what’s happening around us. As Kantor says in a poem about the refugee crisis, “Conscience is becoming contagious . . .” I hope so.
—Donna Marie Merritt, author of We Walk Together (Beech Hill Publishing Company, 2015)


In Too Close for Comfort, Joan Kantor dares to visit scenes of violence, desolation and unbearable grief with an unflinching eye. Kantor particularly connects with women helpless to feed or protect their children. In “Going Home,” she meets a woman traveling to Kosovo to see her sick mother, a mother who sacrificed for her daughter to get to the U.S., a mother who “worked so hard / that she never had time to be pretty / or young.” In “Where Mothers Come From,” she implicates herself for having spent $120 on a designer doll, only to come face to face on the train ride home with an El Salvadoran woman and her young daughter, one month in this country and filled with hope. Joan Kantor’s goal is to bring world events too close for comfort and with this impressive collection, she succeeds. 
—Christine Beck, author of Blinding Light (Grayson Books)


In Too Close for Comfort, a compelling page-turner, Joan Kantor takes on powerful themes with passion and absolute lucidity—inner city life, racism, a fractured judicial system, Sandy Hook, illegal aliens, hunger, and the seemingly perpetual presence of war. She backs down from nothing, but stands her ground with clarity and compassion. This collection is a powerfully disconcerting and entirely fulfilling read, one that, when you begin, you cannot stop.
—John Stanizzi, author of Hallelujah Time (Big Table Book Company)


A collection focused on the relationship between nature, mindfulness and reflection

The sensual magic of the natural world comes alive in this collection. The colors, smells, textures, and shapes of the outdoors are cast in high relief. Forsythia explodes ‘in wild popcorn profusion’, dandelion puffs become a summer snow shower, and vernal pools disappear with a ‘snap of summer’s scalding fingers’. Outdoor denizens will discover the familiar vividly rendered. Armchair nature lovers will find delight that tempts them outside.—–David Leff, author of Finding The Last Hungry Heart and Deep Travel


While these poems express an appreciation of natural beauty and urge us to care for our earth and all its inhabitants, they’re also about self-discovery. When Kantor declares ‘Keeping perfect time isn’t her style/She’s left the rhythm behind…’ she isn’t merely talking about a goose but about all those who are unique. The reader will find a bit of himself or herself in her words.—–Donna Marie Merritt, author of We Walk Together


A brief collection of musings and rants of resistance about the current state of politics and the former occupant of The White House.


If you would like a signed copy of any of the books, are interested in a reading, workshop, or have any questions, please contact me at: joankantor@comcast.net



Dual Impressions

Photos never quite capture the reality of what I see, so instead, I aim to capture the essence of what I feel, through the intensity, softness or abstraction of altered images that often merge with words on the page.

A Sampling of Dual Impressions

Prints of Dual Impressions are for sale. Contact Joan at joankantor@comcast.net


About Joan

“My passions for people, nature, traveling and the arts merge in the poetry that I’ve been writing for almost my entire life.”

Award-winning poet Joan Kantor lives with her husband in the village of Collinsville, Connecticut. Joan was a college counselor and disabilities specialist for many years.  She has been a featured reader for the public television series Speaking of Poetry as well as for several art museums and galleries, and she has also been a featured poet in The Avocet Literary Journal. Additionally, she leads workshops, has mentored for Poetry Out Loud, and has judged and mentored for the Hill-Stead Museum’s Sunken Garden Poetry Festival Fresh Voices Poetry Program. To fulfill her inclusive vision of the arts, Joan collaborates with both visual artists and musicians and currently performs in Stringing Words Together, an interactive performance of poetry and violin music.

Joan’s work has been widely published in literary journals and her first collection, Shadow Sounds (Antrim House 2010), was a finalist in the Foreword Reviews Book of the Year Awards Contest (2010).  She won First Prize for Poetry in The 2013 Hackney Literary Awards Poetry Contest and in 2015 her book, Fading Into Focus, took First Place for Poetry in The 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards Contest. Her most recent collection, Too Close For Comfort,  was published by Aldrich Press in 2016 . She recently completed an ekphrastic project, Her Children, with quilt artist Linda Anderson. She is currently working on her next collection, Dual Impressions, original photos and poems.

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement… get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

—Abraham Joshua Heschel

joankantor@comcast.net

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