Celebrate National Poetry Month with poetry inspired by art in honor of San Antonio’s 2022 Ekphrastic Poetry Contest.
Showcasing poetry inspired by select artworks at the Briscoe Western Art Museum, the McNay Art Museum, Ruby City, the San Antonio Museum of Art and the Witte Museum, “The Poetry of Art” features local poet laureates reading their work and Jim LaVilla-Havelina, San Antonio’s National Poetry Month Coordinator, as well as adult and youth winners of San Antonio’s 2022 Ekphrastic Poetry Contest. Former San Antonio poet laureate Carmen Tafolla reads a poem inspired by a piece of art from the Briscoe, while other San Antonio poet laureates read their poems based on works from other local institutions. The pairings featured in this year’s ekphrastic poetry effort include: Jenny Browne, the McNay Art Museum; Jim LaVilla-Havelin, San Antonio Museum of Art; Octavio Quintanilla, the Witte Museum and current San Antonio Poet Laureate, Andrea Vocab Sanderson, Ruby City.
An ekphrastic poem is based on a piece of art, taking an existing piece of visual art and using written words to describe and expand on the theme of that work of art. Many of these poems explore hidden meanings or an underlying story. Each local art institution selected one work from their collection to feature in the 2022 Ekphrastic Poetry Contest for adult and youth poets.
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WINNERS OF THE
2022 NPMSA EKPHRASTIC POETRY CONTEST
The Briscoe Western Art Museum
We partnered with local poets and other art institutions to invite poets to draw inspiration from artworks. Writers created a poem written in response to Bruce Greene’s “With No Roof but a Resistol”, from our collection.
The Rising Sun
By Katherine Porter
As I look down the barrel of my Winchester, I see the rising sun
I wear my boots and leggings and spurs, but the battle is far from won
The cattle are behind us, against a rising sun
As I look out across the field, my mind goes to that day
When I rode up with my pa, to see the rising sun
The rain had stopped and stayed away, scared to show its face
The cattle were hungry but we knew what to do
So, we prayed and prayed, but the sweet smell I knew never came
The day we rounded up to sell, there in the wind it blew
The beautiful smell of rain hit my nose
As we rode up that day, so then, I started to say
The rain has come to save us pa, he stopped me dead and said
No, son God gave us one more day
One more day to thank him, one more day to see
The backs of our precious cattle, against his rising sun
By Jonathan Fletcher
A sickness persists in the Plains, spins the clouds like cotton candy,
stains them dark gray and purple, swallows the pink-tinged wedge
of light, sometimes a cowboy or two. Not these tough cowhands,
though, who look on yet refuse to flinch or flee as the puffy pall
approaches. So, too, their equally hardy horses: a stoic Appaloosa,
a partially obscured chestnut. In such harsh conditions, biped and
quadruped must act alike. Still, there are those who assume these
cowboys, each stirruped yet unstirred, are not brave but reckless,
maybe even mad. Yet do ill or careless cowhands wear Western
shirts and weathered chaps, cowhide cuffs and rawhide gloves?
Or bring and don their dusters? Perhaps the coreopsis that gently
bends with the tallgrass knows: such wear, though thick and ruff,
isn’t meant for more than the body. It’s instead the cowboys who
toughen themselves. A Resistol protects the head, not the mind.
These Old Bones
By Diane Gonzales Bertrand
feel the storm before I open my eyes,
twisting in my backbone,
cracking in my knees.
Tell the boy over coffee
we wear our canvas long-coats today.
He pulls aside the checkered curtain
squints at the sun, laughs.
With his coat shoved under his saddle,
he rides beside me, admiring his own shadow.
As we reach the herd nuzzling yellow weeds,
the clouds distill as purple mist,
steady drops rap against our hats.
Rolling thunder muffles his cursing
at these old bones he refuses to trust.
Former San Antonio poet laureate Carmen Tafolla’s poem
Procession– whispered by the sculpture The Procession by Paul Moore, Muskogee Creek, in the Briscoe Museum, as a passer-by said, “El camino es largo, como las esperanzas de un pobre”.
by Carmen Tafolla
We come with our shivering dreams cocooned in stubborn fists
with the whisper of rebozos woven long ago and the moan of threadbare mantos
shielding our faces from the biting wind, the icy dawn, the stare of strangers
We trudge our tired feet paso a paso up unclimbed montañas
knowing the road will get rockier, the air dustier,
the sun hotter, the panting more breathless
We come bearing a cross, a saint, our hats, a hope
We come guided by an invisible star, inside our pulsing hearts
drawn by visions we have witnessed mutely, alone
Our song is silence, the beat of dusty and determined feet
upon this earth that will some morning hold our quiet bones
Our prayers are whispered without words, or walls, or church or limits
The goal of this procession is procession
Here we come to process our lives, to profess our histories, the entirety of our longings
to reveal the sinewed scars and arteries of our existence
To bear witness with our ragged footsteps, joining forces in something
greater, larger, totally unseen, and powerful
And to transform You
who suddenly, now or some day, will find your feet lifting from the land
from the routine of daily chores, to join our steps and follow breathless.
You too now part of this scarred and holy procession…