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Flapper Press Poetry Café 2023 Summer Ekphrastic Poetry Contest Winners!

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

By Flapper Press Poetry Café:

What better way to celebrate the end of summer than with poetry?

The Flapper Press Poetry Café is proud to announce our five winners for the 2023 Summer Ekphrastic Poetry Contest!

What is ekphrastic poetry?

According to the Poetry Foundation:

“Description” in Greek. An ekphrastic poem is a vivid description of a scene or, more commonly, a work of art. Through the imaginative act of narrating and reflecting on the “action” of a painting or sculpture, the poet may amplify and expand its meaning.

For this summer's contest, our interview and the extraordinary paintings of artist Alistair Little provided the jumping off point for poetic inspiration, his work resonating with mystery and imagination—a poet's delight.

Each poet was allowed to choose a painting from the article and utilize any poetic form of their choosing to capture and interpret the emotion, mystery, and imagination of the artwork.

As with all our poetry contests, the submissions were a delight to read, and it's always difficult to narrow them down to the top five. We thank all our poets for their work and encourage everyone to submit their poems using our Submission Guidelines for consideration for future publication. We will also be announcing more contests soon, so stay tuned!

It is our honor to announce, in alphabetical order, our 2023 Summer Poetry Contest Winners!

Bartholomew Barker

Little, Alistair. Round & Round. [Oil on panel]. 13 in. x 22 in.

Overnight at the Downs

(inspired by "Round & Round" by Alistair Little)

If that filly had placed instead of shown I'd be home, getting the lock off my door,

instead of sleeping on this wooden bench,

blanket of betting slips and the Racing Form.

I dream I'm a stallion, filling my nostrils

with dusty air as I gallop 'round and 'round, carrying some strange weight

on my back and never getting anywhere.

Hunger drags me awake before the false dawn,

mind spinning, I vow to pay better attention in the paddock so I can turn what little's left into a fortune before the fourth race.

Bartholomew Barker

Bartholomew Barker works with Living Poetry, a poetry group in North Carolina. He has published two collections and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.


Michael H. Brownstein

Little, Alistair. Sanda. [Oil on panel]. 10 in. x 8 in.

The War Lands

(inspired by "Sanda" by Alistair Little)

Somewhere in the torn lands of war

the air breathes in its best breath,

finds nothing to hold onto--

everywhere the tar of war,

everywhere the graying of cloud,

everywhere ash pits of bone.

Search hard into the horizon: the sky tries to color itself Antigua blue,

smothers itself with a smoldering of scars,

and the waterways feel its blood, a carving of earth and atmosphere, the soiled scent of war torn lands.

Michael Brownstein

Michael H. Brownstein's poetry, A Slipknot to Somewhere Else (2018) and How Do We Create Love (2019) were published by Cholla Needles Press.


Laura Chalar

Little, Alistair. Departure. [Oil on panel]. 24 in. x 12 in.

Exchange Student

(inspired by "Departure" by Alistair Little)

Early 1962: after a grueling trip, a dazed teen lands in Michigan.

Getting off the plane in a suit and tie, my father sees snow for the first time—

this lawyer’s son from Uruguay, shown by his hosts how to flush the toilet

or turn on a lamp. We didn’t know what to

expect, the mom will tell him later.

You could have been an Indian! Still, they get along, a taciturn love of sorts

growing between them. This will be Dad’s

golden year—skating on icy puddles with

his farm-raised friends, kids actually able to afford a car with their savings—Detroit

just fields away, fierce in the glow of its heyday.

On his return he’ll promptly become

an orphan, and thus, too soon, employee,

breadwinner, late graduate—his own words,

still bitter years after. His hopes for me: You always fly high,

please, even if it scares me.

Laura Chalar

Laura Chalar, a lawyer and writer, was born in Uruguay in 1976. In the USA, she has published Riversent (poems, 2022) and The Guardian Angel of Lawyers (short stories, 2018), among other works.


Maril Crabtree

Little, Alistair. Ardnamurchan (Scotland series). [Oil on panel].16 in. x 26 in.


(inspired by "Ardnamurchan" by Alistair Little)

Be silent. Let the air be your tongue. Let names of things, labels, socks and shoes,

disappear into the darkness. Let the void be the void as you settle on the edge of the unknown, between

sunlight and shadow, as you encounter the flash of memory, the sorrow of what might have been, the lure of what

may yet come: desires, wishes, beacons

of light showing the way. Let your life be its own string of storied moments

woven in wonder and tenderness.

Maril Crabtree

Maril Crabtree’s poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, most recently in the I-70 Review, Mockingheart Review, and Pensive.


Prosper Ìféányí

Little, Alistair. Untitled. [Oil on panel]. 18 in. x 12 in.

Film: The Story of Balzarov Kincaid

(inspired by "Untitled" by Alistair Little)

twin doves, circling above eschew the ghazal in a wilderness. they didn't know they were white, until the song told them so. the olive branch is pixelated, and beautiful soldiers shoot darts of flowers from their guns. their life is not their life, but something touched to the ground. something scripted. Balzarov Kincaid is the name I seem to think of. 17, young, enlisted into the army against his will. he makes the perfect picture of a broken story. one who sees a maiden, marries her, settles down. he bears kids, they don't look like him, they look like her, dumplings for noses, trunks for arms, feathers for brains. looming immensities. he meets God; or God meets him—as common men claim. receives illumination. tongues the crease of an altar. sees a woman. loves the woman, but not the way he loves his wife. they meet in transit. she bears him a son. his wife finds out, tells her how sorry he is. next, the son is hacking wood in the garage, and cuts his finger. he suffers from the same affliction of his father, the wound they carry is borne from their hands. Balzarov takes him fishing. cold night. swooshing air. J Cole and Kendrick blaring through the stereo. they are the radiant shadows of what they resist to be. one catches a fish with no worm; another is silent as the tree a koala has just slept. everything burns bright in their eyes, more recent are the flowers. the boy shows a desperate sign of violence. everything points to it. his father has him enlisted in the army—it's an endless cycle of madness and war. you just watch.

Propser Ìféányí

Prosper Ìféányí is a poet based in Lagos, Nigera. His works are featured or forthcoming in the Indianapolis Review, Westchester Review, and elsewhere.


Presenting a wide range of poetry with a mission to promote a love and understanding of poetry for all. We welcome submissions for compelling poetry and look forward to publishing and supporting your creative endeavors. Submissions may also be considered for the Pushcart Prize.

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