AHS Students Place in WFOP’s Ekphrastic Poetry Contest

Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets joined with the Woodson Art Museum and invited students to participate in a statewide ekphrastic poetry contest. The submission period took place between October 1, 2022 through January 15, 2023. The student participants wrote and submitted poems inspired by artwork images from the Woodson Art Museum’s collection. The installation of the winning poems and collection of artworks took place April 6 from 5:30 to 6:30 pm.


According to Getty Center, ekphrastic poetry is defined as poems written about works of art. The Greek term was applied to the skill of describing a thing with vivid detail. 


In the top three winners, two were from Arrowhead High School. Ellie Lloyd placed second with her poem “A Colorful World” which was inspired by Enchanted Island by Millard Sheets. Courtney Weston placed third with her poem “Summers in Port Clyde: Memories for my Grandchildren”. Weston’s poem was inspired by House at Port Clyde by Stowe Wengenroth.

Ryanne Farris, an Arrowhead senior who received an honorable mention, said, I wrote this piece for Creative Writing taught by Ms. Jorgensen. I wrote this piece about a painting called Enchanted Island by Millard Sheets. This painting inspired me because I love nature, and I felt it captured the peace and wonder that humans feel when they are immersed in nature alone.”

English teacher Elizabeth Jorgensen says she introduced ekphrasis to her first semester creative writing classes. She says, “students listened to Edward Hopper Study: Hotel Room by Victoria Chang; The Dream of the Anti-Ekphrasis by Fargo Nissim Tbakhi; and The Kiss by Sasha Pimentel. Students considered the perspectives in writing ekphrastic poetry. In the subsequent class, students studied and discussed the pieces of art the WFOP and Woodson Art Museum wanted them to write about: Enchanted Island, The Saints at Hampstead Heath, and House at Port Clyde.”  

“I asked my students to brainstorm about the images. I asked them questions like, What does this artwork remind you of? What might have been happening while the artist was creating this piece? What are the characters in the piece saying to each other?” 

Jorgensen said her students then had class time to write original ekphrastic poems based on one of the three images. Throughout the next few classes, students shared drafts with partners and small groups, before finalizing and submitting poems to writers’ markets.

The three images the contestants could choose from included The Enchanted Forest by Millard Sheets, House in Port Clyde by Stowe Wengenroth, and The Saints of Hampstead Heath by Leonora Carrington.


Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets is dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of poets and poetic heritage in the state, mentoring and supporting local poets with regular readings, workshops, conferences and other events and advocating for the study of poetry in our schools. WFOP is a non-profit organization around reading, writing and advocating poetry that was created exclusively for literary purposes with the hope that Wisconsin could become more aware and appreciative of our poets and poetic heritage. 


Killian Weston, senior and honorable mention said, “I was given the opportunity to write about a piece of artwork through my subjective eyes, I was able to write about the piece in whatever way I saw it. To me, this wasn’t a hard contest. I wrote about my emotions and feelings about a piece of art. Sometimes that can be hard for me, but this contest wasn’t particularly stressful.”

According to the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, in Wausau, Wisconsin, is known for its internationally renowned Birds in Art exhibition each fall. It offers diverse and ever-changing exhibitions year-round, sculpture garden, Art Park, dynamic programs and a commitment to always-free admission. One of two art museums in the country to win a 2017 National Medal, WAM received the nation’s highest museum honor given for significant and exceptional contributions to its community.

My piece was based on a lithograph titled House at Port Clyde by Stowe Wengenroth – it was one of the three art options provided in the WFOP (Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets) contest. This contest was to celebrate the fact that April is National Poetry Month. My poem is being featured at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, WI alongside the original lithograph; the exhibit drops on Thursday, April 6, 2023,” Courtney Weston, senior and third place winner said.

According to the WFOP Contest page, students may enter ONE original poem and the maximum length is 24 lines including the stanza breaks, but not the title. Participants can have no more than 60-characters per line including spaces and indents, cannot consider longer poems, multiple entries, or collaborative poems, and students need to be Wisconsin High School students in current attendance. The first place winner received $75, second place winner, Ellie Lloyd from Arrowhead, received $50, and third place winner, Courtney Weston from Arrowhead received $25. The winning poems will also be announced on WFOP’s contest results page.

“I would like to thank the organization and the judges behind the WFOP Ekphrastic Poetry Contest for admiring my work and awarding me with the honor of being selected for my work,” Weston said.

Jorgensen says, “In addition to sending ekphrastic poems to the WFOP, my students also sent their pieces to The Ekphrastic Review. I was so pleased to see so many of my students selected for publication in a special showcase.” 

The following Arrowhead students were featured in that showcase:

The Saints of Hampstead Heath

  • Cycle of All Those That Live and Breathe by Laila Alvarado

  • Death Bed by Chayse Farris

  • A Last Breath At Hampstead Heath by Ben Harkavy

  • Life or Death by Riley Kloth

  • Journey to Valhalla by Logan Probst

  • A New Life by Eva Sevcik

  • Onto The Next: The Life After Death by Lauryn Vierck


Enchanted Island

  • Contrast by Dominic Gambatese 

  • Unenchanting Life by Sam Harrison

  • The Edge of Magic by Garrett Monis

  • Late Early Morning by Connor Olson

  • The Island’s Mystery by Kathryn Ortmeier 

  • The Meaning of Three by Haley Podd

  • The World of Tomorrow by Lauryn Wulf


House at Port Clyde

  • Depression Like a Storm by Justin Heimsch

  • The Storm by Molly Jackson

  • The House at the End of the Street by Evan Kantorowicz

  • Moonlight by Patrick Mcaboy

  • Walking Past Port Clyde by Joey Risch

  • Hidden Strength by Maggie Slife

  • Summers in Port Clyde: Memories for My Grandchildren by Courtney Weston


Jorgensen says, “I’m so happy for all of these published and award-winning authors. They should be so proud of themselves. This is truly a remarkable accomplishment and achievement.”