2023 Youth Winning Poems

Dreaming in Red

I find myself dreaming,
To keep myself from drowning.
I choose to dream about a happier place.
The red is like the barren wilderness,-so dry, so empty.
In my mind the only way to escape this deserted red place is to dream,
Dream to leave this lonesome red place, this desolate area
That lives in my head. No matter how much i dream,
The dreams are in my mind .
So I still find myself dreaming in red.
I am waiting for the day that this changes.
Till I wake from this dream, just like every other morning
To see black.

—Mellany Hernandez

Adult Winning Poems 2023

Event Horizon
Sentient skin of sand,
capillaries of crushed silica and shell
flush red at the sun’s touch—
an animal awakening,
waves of a star’s ejecta.
Here you are
all that you are not.
The small self contracts
to a sharp shadow.
The rest of you empties
into bronzed light
and mineral undulation.

—Mobi Warren

The red dune
I think it was you on the dune
this time, guarding the red sand,
looking over the water—
I'm always trying to figure out
if it's you or me out there, conflicted by
the pull of it
in one dream, you were the red sand
you had become the red dune,
a continuum of red,
wherever I went you were with me.

—Alan Montes

I want so badly to go out and touch the world
To go out and taste it
To walk a day under your weather
And mix with my fellow man
I’ve spent too much time alone and learned the hard way
To much time alone left me scarred
Under the weight of the dessert’s sand
Instead of barefoot on the surface
Instead of reaching for heaven like a flower pushing for the sun
I planted a rock in good soil and expected something to grow
I shut my lips tight when my heart wanted to sing
I remember love and freedom and being close to the music
My nerves shake and crave for it
To play in the daylight

—Diego Ray Hernandez

Poetry month is just around the corner! We partnered with local poets and other art institutions to invite you to draw inspiration from artworks. Submit a poem written in response to Dreaming in Red, from our collection. If you win, your poem will be shared in April to celebrate National Poetry Month.

What is an Ekphrastic Poem? An ekphrastic poem is based on a piece of art. These poems take an existing piece of visual art, and use 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.

Ekphrastic Poetry Contest Guidelines- Submissions are OPEN NOW!
Submit a poem written in response to Armorial Hanging from our collection. If you win, your poem will be shared in April to celebrate National Poetry Month.
Deadline for Submissions: March 10, 2023

What to Submit: Submit up to two (2) poems (each no more than 15 lines including spaces, plus title) written in response to the posted images. Poets should not simply describe the image they see; they should also share how the image affects them (puzzling, touching, frightening, enlightening, etc.).

How To Submit: In an email to EkphrasticPoetryContest1@gmail.com include:
- your name, and for Youth poets, your age
- city/state
- phone and email
- and attach one poem per email in a Microsoft Word doc or pdf. No name / identifying info should be on the poem. Each poem must be sent in a separate email; the email subject line should read: Ekphrastic Poetry Contest Submission (indicate Adult or Youth) – (Title of Artwork).

The Judging: Up to 3 winning poems per artwork will be selected by the judges and shared throughout April, National Poetry Month. Only winners will be notified by email no later than March 23, 2023. Only Adult & Youth Poets from San Antonio & South Texas are eligible.

The Briscoe Western Art Museum: Jerry Jordan, LISTEN TO THE DRUMS, 2013, Oil on Canvas.

The McNay Art Museum: vanessa german, BLACK GIRL WITH SNAKES, 2020, Assemblage.

San Antonio Museum of Art: ARMORIAL HANGING, ca. 1771, Viceroyalty of New Spain period. 


Arts Alive San Antonio
Bihl Haus Arts
Gemini Ink
San Antonio Public Library