Flapper Press Poetry Café: Winners for the Summer Poetry Contest!

By Annie Newcomer:


Thank you to everyone who submitted poetry for our Summer Ekphrastic Poetry Challenge.


Our panel of judges stated that while paying attention to form, technique, style, and originality, they also placed a high importance on the emotion they felt when reading the poem after viewing the corresponding photo. Each judge felt very strongly about their selections and the final order decided on. It was a very close and fun contest!


All of the poetry is inspired by the outstanding work of photographer and regular contributor to Flapper Press Kim Carr. You can see Kim's work here and read many of her articles here. As a point of interest, we've asked for her comments to accompany the poems.


From Kim: I have so enjoyed each of these poems. It was as if the writer tapped into my soul, saw what I saw, felt what I felt when capturing these images, a moment in time that lives on forever and is now enhanced by their words that bring life to my images for others to enjoy. Nicely done, everyone.


Congratulations to our winners! Stay tuned for more poetry contests in the near future.


Meet our winners!


"Canoe on Basswood River" photo by Kim Carr

1st Place


Michael Harty

(Based on"Canoe on Basswood River" photo by Kim Carr)


Things That Can Happen


Such a friendly river: silky surface spreads a welcome, smooth curves beckon downstream. Picture an easy launch and glide, calm water, sweet silence decorated with birdsong, gentle plashing of paddle, leafy walls slide past in slow motion, and above it all, graceful circles of a gliding hawk overhead. Such a day it could be: though perhaps you noticed marks of high water in the woods, drifted debris among the trunks, evidence the river can turn treacherous. There’s the story of a canoe swept sideways in the current, trapped and held against a sunken log, desperate paddlers overwhelmed and lost.

Yes, always the dark shapes below the tranquil surface. And always the squinting of the eye, the desire to look away, look ahead to the happy ending. The brave ones are those who know full well the things that can happen, who are not strangers to fear, but still step in the canoe, still relish the chance to find out what really is out there around the bend.

From Kim Carr: Bravo to Michael. Having just returned from a week of floating, it was as if he had been there with me. There is definitely a mix of beauty and fear that encircles every trip out on the water. I took this particular photo after being dropped off in the wilderness of the Boundary Waters for a seven-day float, and Michael really nailed the emotions we felt as we encountered many challenges along the way, always seeking what was "around the bend."


"Red-Checkered Cloth" photo by Kim Carr

2nd Place


Maggie Mosher

(Based on "Red-Checkered Cloth" photo by Kim Carr)


Concealed by Patterns

(A Contrapuntal Poem)

There are people speaking somewhere over my Hijab, niceties— about the weather,

sports, covered dishes, family recipes.

I don’t hear their words, but know they’re there,

sounds, just out of reach, while I stare at row after flawless row of table cloths in colors once used to distinguish the loyal.

Do these patterns hold for others all they hold for me—mark resistance, occupation, oppression,

religion, nationality, allegiance, reveal a people

stretched out on barbed wire, the countless ways

to interpret a checkered past?

Coarse grains hidden by vibrant hues.

Did the wood feel it odd, to be shielded

from all that can be spilled upon its back, seep into its pores?


They go by many names, Kaffiyeh ,كُوفِيَّة‎,

Shemagh شما غ, placed on top of heads,

around necks, but here laid out, missing

the band of twisted black cord.


Who thought the lumber was lacking,

in need of being covered by the consistency

of alternating white hopes and red shames?


Did it envy the pattern’s ability to contain

tones in flawlessly aligned boxes—not yet washed

in such a way that one bleeds into the other?


A newness to the napery makes me want

to reveal something real, hardened and heavy,

petrified, weary, to take my mind away

from the knowledge of all that can be concealed.


It’s perfect, someone says.

And I think of the changes, losses, deaths,

all the prickly things that must be covered

to remain beautiful.

From Kim Carr: I don’t think I will ever look at a checkered tablecloth the same. Maggie opened my eyes to the fact that even what I see as one of the simplest of things in life can conjure a mix of emotions and meanings. I appreciate the differences in what the eye sees from one person to the next. There truly is so much more below the surface. Nicely done, Maggie.


"Price's Branch Barn" photo by Kim Carr

3rd Place—A Tie!


Jamie Lynn Heller

(Based on"Price's Branch Barn" photo by Kim Carr)


Just Off the Highway

The old barn wilts, settles sagging beams on its role as neglected memorial to a forgotten

way of life on winnowed plains.

Emptied of utility, it strains to modestly

hold warped boards together, maintain dignity while waiting to be absorbed by the soil.

Its planks drained by the sun, emit creaks,

moaning aches, sighs set free.

Too tired to breathe in again, it releases a prayer of swallows towards a gathering storm,

petitioners for a lightning strike,

begging for this blessing that would consume and provide relief

from the breeze chafing every surface.

From Kim Carr: I took this photo over ten years ago of an old barn just down the road. Jamie hit the nail on the head, as I have slowly watched this barn being absorbed by the soil. My great nephew, who just turned seven, calls it his barn. It will be sad when it is gone and there is no place for the swallows and other critters who must call it home. “Emptied of utility, it strains to modestly hold warped boards together” . . . truer words have never been written.

John Swainston

(Based on "Price's Branch Barn" photo by Kim Carr)


Price's Branch Barn

(A Wabi-sabi poem)

There you sit, tucked back in the trees but not hidden. A tin roof wrinkled like an old man.

Siding rust brown and grey.

Warped boards some bowing out. </