For this year’s National Poetry Month Ekphrastic Poetry Contest organizers collaborated with five San Antonio art institutions and selected pieces from their collections to serve as inspiration for ekphrastic poems. The piece that SAMA selected for the contest is a Japanese screen titled; Landscape of Four Seasons.
The poems below are this year’s winners in the youth and adult categories:
By Ariana Chaudhary
All they could see from their frigid, raven-feathered boats,
Were the silken strands of shaded water, and their eyes dusted
With the milky breeze carrying( them softly, a mother to child.
Children of the earth, children of the sun, she sang. Welcome home.
Though towering over their curious figures, she reached out a hand—
Slender fingers with chipped nails, rough yet warm with autumn’s sun-faded embers.
They created a rain-kissed stream of houses, one with summer’s golden-flaked wind—
They passed through the gentle-eyed giants, following the fluted harmonies
To a hidden palace, pampered with spring’s persimmons and fermenting wild rice.
But now as seasons rise and wane, perhaps the giants don’t stand as tall—
Perhaps the musk wind carries her leaves in a new direction—
Perhaps the children’s hearts have changed—
Yet if all remained static, when could the buds of life ever bloom?
Landscape Of The Four Seasons
By Isabel Brown
When dawn has arisen,
The lively bark whisper
And the leaves
Huddle me with grace.
With luck, we move forward-
Come streams of tears
The fish swim along
And the boats graze across.
By Pia Nathani
Waiting on the dock
No place to call home
Just my travels and I
The clouds in the sky
The wind in my hair
I look at the village
And just stare
Relaxed with the breeze
And the mountains so tall
The boats coming in
A memory I can’t recall
Haiku for Landscape of Four Seasons
By Veronica Morrison
We are waiting out
the unrelenting greyness
of a somber year.
After Unkoku Tōgan’s Landscape of Four Seasons
By Mark Heinlein
High above the village in the depths of the depthless mountain range, spring
Has been swallowed up. And the handful of days fisted in our pockets scatters
Like the last oak leaves as stiff gusts tear through their naked branches.
Deep in unseen crevices, the nightingale sings its spring song but can barely
Be heard. And the dirt-colored swallows that feed at the bird feeder scare
When the cardinals come. (Are they my dead parents come from far away?)
Death and war are the junket and vessel of calamitous governments.
How many suffer, collapse from the heat and drouth of the shifting
Season? Blameless, innocents cross the borders helpless with crumpled maps
Of their old lives. O illimitable hope, O unseen wonder, come back, guide us
Through the steep mountain pass safely. On the other side, breathless
From the tenuous riprap winding into the clouds, there will be time to rest.
Looking back, I had no idea the journey would be so brief. Looking back,
how small the world is below.
Additionally, community poets have been selected to represent the participating art institutions in the creation of a unique ekphrastic poem based on a piece that is currently on view. The poem below which was written by Jim LaVilla-Havelin is inspired by Dorothy Hood’s (American, 1918-2000) Flying in Outer Space.
Flying in Outer Space / Dorothy Hood / 1974
after, under, before
the airplane wing
the world breaks up
into the randomness of landscape
my first flight
from Rochester to Syracuse
a high school student
on my way to a Quaker Conference
to speak against the war
from, out of, down on
are landforms collage –
shapes and textures
edges, roadways, sparkle of rivers
or a passageway
on our flight from London to Harare
over the Sahara, sun coming up
a passenger had a heart attack
there was a doctor on board
we never heard
if he survived
wing tilts, the earth in the window shifts
all the pieces of a puzzle spilled out
across the great table
of the sky.
Poet Jim LaVilla-Havelin
Jim LaVilla-Havelin is the author of five books of poetry. The most recent, West, poems of a place (Wings Press, 2017) chronicles and celebrates his move to the country, after a lifetime of city dwelling. His chapbook, TALES FROM THE BREAKAWAY REPUBLIC will be published by Moonstone Press in 2022.
An educator, editor, and community arts activist, LaVilla-Havelin is the Poetry Editor for the San Antonio Express-News, and the coordinator for San Antonio’s National Poetry Month activities. He was awarded the City of San Antonio’s Distinction in the Arts for Literary Arts in 2019.
A creative writing teacher for almost fifty years, in addition to his teaching at the Cyndi Taylor Krier Juvenile Correctional Treatment Center for Gemini Ink’s Partners Program, LaVilla-Havelin teaches senior citizens in the Go Arts program through Bihl Haus Cultural Arts, and high school students as Poet in Residence for the Young Women’s Leadership Academy.