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2022 National Poetry Month Ekphrastic Poetry Contest

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 catergories:

Youth Winners:

Ever-Changing

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-

With disharmony

Come streams of tears

The fish swim along

And the boats graze across.

 

 

Memory

By Pia Nathani

 

Waiting on the dock

No place to call home

Just my travels and I

All alone

 

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

 

Adult Winners:

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

                                    as geometry

                                                or

                                                memory

 

                        my first flight

                         puddle-jumper

                        from Rochester to Syracuse

                        Mohawk Airlines

                        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

                                                into yesterday

 

                        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.

 

 

                                                            Jim LaVilla-Havelin

                                                            March 2022

 

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.