What is Ekphrastic Poetry?

What is Ekphrastic Poetry?


You may be asking yourself, “what is ekphrastic poetry?” In the simplest terms, it is poetry written about art such as paintings, photography or sculpture. The term ekphrasis is from ancient Greece and applies to the skill of describing an object with vivid detail. When reading or listening to an ekphrastic poem, you should be able to create an image of the work in your mind.

At the end of August, we announced our Ekphrastic Poetry Contest, held in celebration of our 30th anniversary. Students from the Delaware Valley Region in Grades 6-12 were invited to participate. The contestants were to look at the works of art featured in the exhibit 30 Years: Art at the Michener, 1988-2018 for inspiration. This exhibit features works acquired by the museum over the past 30 years and includes many old favorites in addition to some seldom seen objects from our vault.

We were thrilled to have received over 80 submissions for the contest! Judges from the Central Bucks School District reviewed and ranked each entry based on originality, form, language, grammatical skill, and the creative interpretation or reflection of writing. It was a tough job, but they were able to select six winners:

  • First Place: Keira Heather Boyd, Grade 8, Wissahickon Charter School, Philadelphia, PA
  • Second Place: Alana Y. Baggett, Grade 8, Wissahickon Charter School, Philadelphia, PA
  • Third Place: Penelope (Penny) Duran, Grade 10, Willy Brandt School, Warsaw, Poland
  • Honorable Mention: Maggie Baumeister, Grade 6, Regina Coeli Academy, Abington, PA
  • Honorable Mention: Ananya Siragavarapu, Grade 9, Tamanend Middle School, Warrington, PA
  • Honorable Mention: Raven N. Hart, Grade 8, Wissahickon Charter School, Philadelphia, PA

Congratulations to all of our winners! Thanks go out to all that submitted works – we encourage you to maintain confidence and continue to pursue your writing.

A special thanks goes out to our judges:

  • Robert Trachtenberg teaches English at Central Bucks West and serves as co-advisor for The Phoenix, a student-run literary and arts magazine.
  • Brett Vogelsinger is an English teacher at Holicong Middle School, currently working with ninth-grade students.  He enjoys starting class with a poem each day and leading student editors of the school’s online literary magazine, Sevenatenine.

Thank you to the Michener docents who helped spearhead this project including: Kate Putnam, Dale Scafuro, Stephen Heilakka, and Kay Fairs.

Want to learn more about the exhibit that served as inspiration for our young writers? Visit our website at: 30 Years: Art at the Michener, 1988-2018.

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