Join us for biweekly ekphrastic writing challenges. See why so many writers are hooked on ekphrastic! We feature some of the most accomplished influential poets writing today, and we also welcome emerging or first time writers and those who simply want to experience art in a deeper way or try something creative.
The prompt this time is The Best is Yet to Come, by Lorette C. Luzajic. Deadline is March 6, 2020.
1. Use this visual art prompt as a springboard for your writing. It can be a poem or short prose (fiction or nonfiction.) You can research the artwork or artist and use your discoveries to fuel your writing, or you can let the image alone provoke your imagination.
2. Write as many poems and stories as you like. Send only your best works or final draft, not everything. (Please note, experimental formats are difficult to publish online. We will consider them but they present technical difficulties with web software that may not be easily resolved.) Please copy and paste your submission into the body of the email, even if you include an attachment such as Word or PDF.
3. Have fun.
4. USE THIS EMAIL ONLY.
Send your work to firstname.lastname@example.org. Challenge submissions sent to the other inboxes will most likely be lost as those are read in chronological order of receipt, weeks or longer behind, and are not seen at all by guest editors. They will be discarded. Sorry.
5.Include PIRNER WRITING CHALLENGE in the subject line in all caps please.
6. Include your name and a brief bio. If you do not include your bio, it will not be included with your work, if accepted. Even if you have already written for The Ekphrastic Review or submitted other works and your bio is "on file" you must include it in your challenge submission. Do not send it after acceptance or later; it will not be added to your poem. Guest editors may not be familiar with your bio or have access to archives. We are sorry about these technicalities, but have found that following up, requesting, adding, and changing later takes too much time and is very confusing.
7. Late submissions will be discarded. Sorry.
8. Deadline is midnight, March 6, 2020.
9. Please do not send revisions, corrections, or changes to your poetry or your biography after the fact. If it's not ready yet, hang on to it until it is.
10. Selected submissions will be published together, with the prompt, one week after the deadline.
11. Rinse and repeat with upcoming ekphrastic writing challenges!
Bury Me in White
Copper shards in Merlot
Dense and deep and wealthy
Luna pries apart a pristine bower.
Crimson tears in hyssop and
Splashed across mulberry.
Baby's breath grown in red clay.
Mother's milk to sickle cells and
Pools ripple with salty floes.
Miming screams with whispering echoes.
Joyful in the spring and
Wonderful in the summer.
Awful in the autumn.
Terrible is the young winter.
Michael John Wiese
Someone Shot the Sun Today
It bled into the sky,
Bled bright red and pink, until the night was nigh.
So the sun thus murdered for yet another day,
The stars alight to move around and play.
Little eyes of different shades, staring through the night;
They twinkle and they wink at me with all their glowing might.
All the while I see some grow so weak and tired,
They fall right from the very sky so bright and set afire.
But the time is what it is and no clock is really broken,
And rosy fingered dawn is softly spoken.
So the tiny boiling lights seem to turn into a shimmer,
And all their winking eyes are suddenly much dimmer.
To the east the sky - caught a faint blue-gray,
Was it true? Could it be? A star for another day?
Birthing into the waters of a sky to be so blue,
Came in infant sun to start its life anew.
It laboured and it crowned and the sky became so bright.
The world was filled in every way and every dark made light.
Like the crime forgiven, and all the blood before,
The sun had rose in red and pink, with the new day it had bore.
Michael John Wiese
They say the Gods live
up on the hill,
but it hadn't always
First, there was infanticide,
Native Sons gone to grist and gristle,
until patricide reigned
only to postpone the tyranny.
Then a capital hill rose
to a mountain built on
lighting and sea and
the scent of death
Where the Gods still
devour the children of the poor
in their land. They are guilty too,
but pretend they are not.
This time, abused Mother Gaia
may not have the strength
to secret us away,
us freshly children of her womb.
Michael John Wiese
I love running fingers
through dark curly hair.
Seeing a long sharp nose and
strong square chin.
You look at me like an army to conquer
like I'm meek and mild, but I'm seething with malice.
Even while I dance,
you're watching at my friend,
wondering at her basket, wanting to touch it,
rough it, pry it open, leave your mark upon it.
If your gaze strays from my hips
the truth is in my eyes.
Instead, you underestimate me,
you undervalue us and you are mistaken.
Patriarchy meets the immovable object of the feminine.
I am silk in the evening. I am steel in the night.
I am creator and destroyer.
I am become Savior to my people.
Because your locks have lost their luster.
Your sparkling eyes turned silent and surprised,
unlike my nerves, alight with hope and heat,
as I steal through the darkness toward my own lamp.
I am liberator and deliverer.
I am warrior and an army will tremble in dawn's early light.
Michael John Wiese
Michael John Wiese is a writer and an inmate in Texas. While incarcerated, he has earned his Associate of Arts degree and is well on his way to a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies. He writes stories, essays, and poetry. Many thanks to his writing mentor Barbara Martinsons for sharing his poetry on his behalf.
Weegee: Self-Portrait with Speed Graphic
In this shot you’re mostly camera.
Weegee and his love you captioned the working print --
bulky, tucked under your chin,
it hides everything but your face and hands, neatly manicured
as a surgeon’s. Why am I surprised? as if shooting
all those cops and corpses were manual labour.
Bland and blank, round as the flash reflector,
your face says nothing
about the ambition that smoldered
like a tenement furnace.
You hardly look like the canny businessman you were.
You made death pay. Murders and fires,
you liked to say, my best sellers,
my bread and butter. Is that all that kept you
behind the wheel each night, the static-burred police radio
running down another shooting, another floater?
Count it 10 years; 10 years and 10 thousand negatives.
Even after you owned every front page,
and museums bought your pictures,
you made your nightly trawl through the Lower East Side.
Who cares if your later work was crap --
cheesy nudes and trick photographs?
Who cares what happened when you left New York?
You gave us a new way of seeing in the dark.
This poem appeared in Black Stars of Blood: The Weegee Poems (Main Street Rag).
Aaron Fischer spent 30+ years in technology and trade journalism and as an online editor at a news and public-policy website. His poems have appeared in Adelaide Poetry Review, After Happy Hour, American Journal of Poetry, Briar Cliff Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Crosswinds Poetry, Naugatuck River Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, and Tishman Review. He has been nominated three times for a Pushcart Prize, as well as for Best Poetry 2019. His chapbook, Black Stars of Blood: The Weegee Poems was published in 2018 by Main Street Rag.
WELCOME TO EARTH :
YOU TOO CAN BE US
“What is essential is invisible to the eye
and can only be seen with the heart.”
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
“HOW TO RECOGNIZE A HUMAN BEING”
Gravity plus appetite equals forward motion:
We are limited to three dimensions,
with the hope of a fourth forming our future.
Our bodies are very fragile and
our existence is incredibly brief,
hence our history: colonizing the void.
“HOW TO GREET THE HUMAN CREATURE”
Occupying the intermediate zone:
We are living radios and living clocks.
We have multiple languages saying
the same thing without realizing it.
Our skins look different but inside
we are identical, a fact we frequently forget.
Our destiny is unified in absence.
“HOW TO TAKE A HUMAN OUT ON A DATE”
These are metaphysical mnemonics,
for knowing the situation we are in.
Our beliefs are based in large part
on misinterpreting everything that happens to us.
Our living and dying occur without the
slightest bit of certainty, apart from the fact
that soon everything must disappear before our eyes.
“HOW TO ENJOY HUMANIST HUMOUR”
Essentials rest below the surface:
Remember: any attempt to explain
our basic human dilemma, of which
all art is an emblem, will inevitably
result in paradox, since paradox,
and to some extent irony, immediately
arises from attempts to express the ineffable.
“HOW TO DEAL WITH REJECTION”
An emergency is waiting to happen.
My thirst is your thirst : my thirst first.
Procedures for a well-timed ending.
End of the world productions:
because........we cater your dreams.
“HOW TO KNOW WHEN ITS TIME TO GO”
Slaves of the alphabet:
a fence surrounding nothing.
Entrance to the large hours:
no east or west in dreams.
Making of virtue of necessity:
the meaning of life is that it ends.
“HOW NOT TO BECOME A HUMAN”
A eulogy for our history:
Queen of the earth
we worship at your feet.
Some things are perfect the way they are.
Suddenly the search for
the miraculous comes unglued,
and we find ourselves
in love with being lost.
“HOW TO FILL IN THE BLANKS”
We have forgotten our names
on a landscape fashioned from
laughter and tears: so we wait.
The armour of our heart
is almost unimaginable.
Our animals are still
hiding deep inside of us.
Be careful of befriending us.
Donald Brackett is a Vancouver-based culture journalist and poet who writes about music, art and films, as well as curating film programs for Cinematheque. He is the author of three books with Backbeat Books: on Amy Winehouse, 2016, Sharon Jones, 2018, and Tina Turner, 2020. He is currently working on a new book about the conceptual artist and musician Yoko Ono.
The Bones of the Foot, and the Shoulder
Charged to finish Agostino's statue
he looked for a youth of shape and vigour
with the strength to stand perfectly balanced
and make his David perfect.
He chose me. I became respected,
celebrated, my fame a reflection
of the artist's illumination. Finished,
David will remain forever in the light.
I slid, unneeded, into anonymous dark.
No-one saw my fall. My bones un-fleshed
for the pen of the anatomist.
In death I have recovered my fame,
my images admired by thousands,
though my name is lost.
Bert Molsom retired early to become an apprentice poet, fully understanding apprenticeships last a long time! He has been long-listed for the Bridport Prize, won Poetry on Loan 2016 and his work has been published by Anthropocene and Ink, Sweat and Tears.
Seville Still Life
An arm chair with a shawl of deep Atlantic blue.
A settee the colour of the garrigue patterned
with flowers and pink flamingoes, and two end tables
draped in the same cloth. And a tablecloth the shade
of Seville oranges, all floating on a terra cotta sea.
It’s a riot of color, inviting the eye to sit down
and eat. From the open window, a fresh breeze
is billowing the curtain like a flag. The pleasures
of the table reign among other pleasures,
said Brillat-Savorin. No food on this table,
only a cool white pitcher outlined in blue,
a splotch of lemon on its side. But I can imagine
a plate of cheeses, a scattering of grapes.
I read somewhere that Roquefort is not just a cheese,
it’s a complex network of shepherds, dairymen,
fromagers, geologists, hewers and haulers,
business executives. I put a wedge in my mouth,
and a meadow of wildflowers blooms. Matisse’s father
said Everything you do is pointless and leads nowhere,
and I wonder, where else would you want to be?
This poem appeared in Barbara Crooker's book, Some Glad Morning (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019.)
Barbara Crooker is the author of many books of poetry; Some Glad Morning and Les Fauves are recent. Her work has appeared in many anthologies, including The Bedford Introduction to Literature, Commonwealth: Contemporary Poets on Pennsylvania, The Poetry of Presence and Nasty Women: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, and she has received a number of awards, including the WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Fellowships in Literature, and the Fantastic Ekphrastic award of recognition from The Ekphrastic Review for her body of art-inspired writing.
I am so grateful for the many wonderful reviews of my new collection, Pretty Time Machine: ekphrastic prose poems.
Click here for a review by Bill Arnott at League of Canadian Poets.
Click here for a review by poet Alarie Tennille.
Click here for a review by Jenene Ravesloot.
There are five reader reviews on Amazon, all five star. THANK YOU for your love and support!
There are several interviews, reviews, and features coming soon. I'm overwhelmed by the response to this book.
In the House of My Parents
It starts and ends with wood
And flesh. Blood, clearly, and
Mother’s care, Father’s gaze--
Angry, Loving. Never
Am I sure. As far back
As I can make out
A dank, calm confusion
Has always surrounded
My purpose. Uncertain
Skills reveal themselves, but
When called upon in haste.
For tools, a Roman plane,
A stone and wood mallet.
My first attempts to please
Father’s dry constant eye
Planks hewn from trunks of trees,
Split, split again, again
And again. Then, worked to
Rugged smoothness, just straight
Enough to keep out death.
Is this apprenticeship
Or the family business?
My hand yearns for magic
To change the very form
Of logs, rough, unshapen
To lumber, straight, even.
The building blocks of life.
My mistakes end in pain,
A pierced hand, a bloody foot.
Joseph Thomas is a hard working poet writing in Los Angeles, CA. His passion for poetry is only exceeded by his love of his children, and backpacking alone in the Sierra Nevadas.
The Hunt in the Forest
It ran the width of the fireplace above
the mantelpiece in my grandma’s parlour,
a room that passed between the scullery
and the draught-run hall, a room rarely sat in,
where the fire, hardly ever lit, barely
pushed back at the damp and cushioning cold.
I used to creep, creakily, down the stairs
before bed, bare feet as pale as the moon,
and stand before it, fringed with light from the hall,
the carpet as soft as a king’s ruby robe,
where it was a strip into a further world,
royal as the band round the Christingle orange:
the bow-back dogs under the black backdrop,
springing like licks of flame, the bodyheat red
of the horses’ trappings matching the balanced hats,
one horse rearing pinchily up, shocked back
from treading an unseen dog or strewn log
as others hived on on the trim green undergrowth,
side-lit by a strike of thin, silver river
like a lance through the heads of three riders,
as footmen threaded with switchy beaters
through the skinny shins of high-leafed trees,
like they were conducting a rabbled orchestra,
all jingling stirrups, barking louder than church bells,
onward, into the apex of the perspective
like an arrow into the denser murk
of the forest, like the vista that lay beyond
the twig-snap, leaf-hushed tiptoe back to bed,
the blackout ushered by the wrapped warmth they too
would have upped from, though no mattress deep as a forest.
Tonight, if I close my eyes like a night,
my head slows, twig-click a-flicker with her,
close, the smooth stroke of her coat, scented, in;
and I think how little I saw her alive,
yet how that should fill, given each life
is just a pin-prick in scattering dark;
but I know it’s a heat I have to let go –
like the thought of where that print could have gone
when the house was stripped and gutted, sold
for next to nothing (no central heating,
single glazing, an area down at heel) –
for its presence ever to be real;
because who cares if it’s only a reprint,
as distant as that picture from the original,
which all that time I thought was called the hunt by night,
and which may never have been where I believed,
I have to let the memory find its own
stepping way through the hostile forest of the head,
to the glade-edge of vision, unsilvered by fear,
patched by chestnut bark, a quiver of leaves,
ash-lit, dapple-glanced, held-breathed there –
within touching distance, its lissome warmth –
for it to truly capture, slash up, butcher me
in the whip-crack flash of its retreat.
Iain Twiddy studied literature at university and lived for several years in northern Japan. His poetry has appeared in Harvard Review, Salamander, The Blue Mountain Review, Poetry Ireland Review and elsewhere.
Angel of Showing Up
Titles matter too much in your world.
Go ahead – laugh. I’ve had other positions.
Miracle Worker – now there’s a title to impress.
Everyone loves a miracle. (Just so you know,
lottery money is not a miracle.)
Putting one foot in front of the other
can turn into a miracle. Everyone suffers
through days when they don’t want
to get out of bed or leave the house, times
when they feel family or friends slipping away
and can’t see that they are the ones
backing out the door.
Can’t you remember when you moved
to a new school in third grade? How the kids
said you talked funny and had cooties?
How many times did you pretend you had
a stomach ache?
When did you last sit down to dinner
with your whole family?
The thing is. Some people ask for help
and some don’t understand that they need it.
I just show up to observe and listen first.
I’ve got a blue bird on one shoulder and bunny
on the other. People seem to sense their vibes
before they see them.
Since you’re talking to me, I know Bun
and Blue will materialize soon. Tell me
if you see something different. I may need
to call for backup.
Alarie Tennille was born and raised in Portsmouth, Virginia, and graduated from the University of Virginia in the first class admitting women. For Alarie, looking at art is the surest way to inspire a poem, so she’s made The Ekphrastic Review home for four years. She hopes you’ll check out her poetry books on the Ekphrastic Book Shelf and visit her at alariepoet.com.
Richard Eric Disney, aka R.E.D., suspects his parents planned his initials, since he grew up with carrot-red hair. He’s always loved to draw and paint, and by “always” he means as soon as he could hold a crayon. He began by emulating the style of his mother, an accomplished artist. Then, one happy day Hallmark Cards, Inc. recognized that R.E.D. was an artist, too. His whimsical designs were soon favorites with consumers. R.E.D. retired from his dream job as a Hallmark illustrator after 35 years, only to realize that art is not a job, but a vocation. Retirement didn’t suit him, so he decided to redirect, reflect, and heal by drawing/painting a new angel every day for 30 days, paired with words to capture his journey. Fast forward three years, and he’s still at it. While he sees these angels as being more autobiographical than not, he hopes they will resonate with others. Please visit him on Facebook, Instagram, or check out more of his art at redheartworks.com.
Alarie and R.E.D. were coworkers for nearly 30 years, and she loved his art at first sight. As his Facebook friend, she’s been delighted to watch his amazing host of angels take flight. About a month ago, she wrote “Angel of Showing Up” and asked him if he’d be willing to share the art that inspired it. Thank heaven he said yes!
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