2022 Ekphrastic Poetry Winners

Last month, National Poetry Month San Antonio invited the community to write ekphrastic poems in response to artwork in local museum collections. South Texas poets submitted entries inspired by works on view at area museums. We congratulate these winners for their outstanding poems written in response to The Sole Sitter by Willie Cole.

Adult judges were Jim LaVilla-Havelin, Eddie Vega, and Linda Simone and the Creative Writers of Young Women’s Leadership Academy served as the youth judges.

Many thanks to the participants, winners, and judges for sharing your talent!


Footprints of Knowing
By Theo Crump
Let me settle into the soles of your shoes
and taste where the bottoms have touched,
drink where your mind
has made a home of the ground

Let me caress your stilettos,
and peel off the remains of the hearts
you’ve made a footprint

Let me pick the birdseed and pain
from the divots in your soles
and show me how they build your consciousness
Youth Winning Poem
The Cabinet by the Door
By Catherine Day
Her memories are stacked by the door,
Piled and heaped, scuffed and worn.
Nicotine-stained, chunky-heeled visions of adolescence,
Sharp, polished images of professionalism,
Quiet slips, soft nicks of self-reflection.
They wonder after her, and the life she’s given them–
Which of them will she wear today?
The ones she is most comfortable in?
What about the secluded ones,
hidden away for the day she truly needs them?
And what of the ones consigned
To a life of being forsaken, not forgotten?
Youth Winning Poem
By Catherine Day
          Thump thump thump
They drop like stones
One after another, down they go,
Into a form of wrinkled brown patent leather skin,
and crippled pink polyester heart,
and unused, disfigured plastic soul.
          Th-thump, th-thump, th-thump
Here’s another, another not wanted, not needed
Because there’s millions–no, billions–
Of whole, perfect specimens right above
          Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump
So all hail the rejects, the non-perfects,
As they mold a solemn, lonely figure
Forever wondering why they weren’t good enough
To make it off the assembly line.
Youth Winning Poem
6:37 PM
By Amy Lewis
This is the gravity of the day.
Melting in place between lock and dinner.
A self,
solidifying, sliding in shoes too large,
body and space a loose skin refilling with a hiss.
Night is for melting back into shape.
And tomorrow you will wake, recognize your own reflection,
and there will be the meditation of standing up,
of doing quiet tasks while the coffee brews or teapot rattles,
so many things contentedly bubbling.
There will follow the meditation of closing doors, of key clack.
And soon the contortions and shrinking
Adult Winning Poem
Sole Sitter I
By Bett Butler
In these women’s shoes, creased and scuffed,
patent leather turns to bronze patina;
shins take shape from chunky heels
of platforms and stilettos worn by disco divas,
drag queens. Young girls teeter, falling, ankles sprained,
spines misaligned by the tyranny of fashion.

          Denied the podium and rostrum,
          are these the only platforms they’re allowed?
Adult Winning Poem
By W. A. “Bill” Coggins
Acrobatic shoes, walking hands
Leather treks cross, stiletto sands,
Nigeria, Ethiopia, in high heels,
Eyes kick around, rubber soul field.
Frozen bronze blues, clogs in green sky,
Spirits of Africa, answers to why -
Mary Janes stumble, futures begin
The ghost of a smile, the upside of a grin.
Adult Winning Poem
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About Willie Cole's The Sole Sitter

The Sole Sitter is the first outdoor sculpture by an African American artist in the McNay’s Collection. New Jersey-based artist Willie Cole (American, born 1955) is known for his figurative sculptures made of shoes and prints made with iron scorch marks. Cole takes inspiration from African sculpture and considers the stories that found materials can bring to art.

Willie Cole, The Sole Sitter, 2013. Bronze. Collection of the McNay Art Museum, Museum purchase with funds from the Russell Hill Rogers Fund for the Arts.  © Willie Cole