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AHS students place in Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Ekphrastic Poetry Contest

Eight Arrowhead Union High School students were selected as winners in the 2024 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Ekphrastic Poetry Contest. All of the top three winners were from Arrowhead High School. 


Junior Xavier Kastner placed first, winning $75 for his piece “Barnet’s Brushed Tale”. Junior Katie Weitner placed second, winning $50 for her piece “Sapphire Blue”. Senior Margaret Walloch placed third, winning $25 for her piece “Nostalgia”.


According to the Poetry Foundation, “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.”


The poems were written based on one of three images. According to Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum, the images included were “Gate” by Owen Gromme, “Disintegration” by Aleta Rossi-Steward, and Will Barnet’s “Study for the Dream”. 


Weitner said, “I was really focused on getting the emotions right in this contest while writing it.  It was definitely challenging to interpret a painting as poetry at face value.”


The winning poems and collection of artworks were displayed on April 6th, 2024, during National Poetry Month at the Woodson Art Museum in Wausau, Wisconsin. 


Rachel Schall, Artist Residency & Adult Program Manager at LYWAM, said in an email, “Visitors can read the winning poems and honorable mentions for each artwork. Additionally, we have posted a PDF of the winning poems and honorable mentions on our website.” 


According to WFOP, high school students statewide were invited to participate in the poetry competition. 


Elizabeth Jorgensen, a creative writing teacher at AHS said, “I am grateful to the WFOP and to the Woodson Art Museum for offering this opportunity for our state’s students. I shared this contest with my creative writing students and it is rewarding and affirming to see so many Arrowhead students recognized. It truly is a testament to the skills, talents and hardwork of Arrowhead’s writing teachers and students.”


The WFOP guidelines page said that students were allowed to enter one original poem with the maximum length being 24 lines. Additionally, there was a 60 character limit per line which included spaces and indents. All poems were submitted via email to [email protected]. Students needed to be Wisconsin High School students in current attendance for the submission to be considered.


Terri Carnell, a creative writing teacher at AHS said, “We always have done the WFOP regular contest and realized that the [Ekphrastic] one was available. We were doing the WFOP original and we were excited that there was another. It has only been open for two years, but we have submitted to it both years. I plan on doing it again next year because I think the art connection is cool. I don’t know how much kids pay attention to art otherwise. It is nice to use it as a stimulus for whatever they are thinking.” 

WFOP plans to do this contest again next year, however, the art pieces for the upcoming contest have not been posted yet. The timeline for submissions is from October 1, 2024 to January 15, 2025. Any submissions after 11:59 pm January 15, will not be considered. WFOP is working with LYWAM again to display the winning poems and artwork during April’s National Poetry Month. To see more information visit WFOP Student Contests.  


Nostalgia by Margaret Walloch (third place)

my dream-like memories must have deceived me,

so young as I spent my days studying the sky

without thanking the coarse ground

that caresses my agile steps.

for my real vision could be detailed on a blank


contemplating undertones–brown or red–of our

distant barn.

I could convey a story–

between a girl and the light, sprinkled gust of


or share the bond of those periwinkle flowers

and how they cause a dusk sky to remind me of


the skies I surveyed everyday after my ham


or reveal that the lush, wise trees,

always kept my secrets in spring.

I slowly step forward

behind the secret gate that dad built for me

to keep the rest of the world out.

the fields that I’ve roamed a million times,

a place that I keep for myself.


Sapphire Blue by Katie Weitner (second place)

The cardboard box sat in the corner of my room.

At first I would hear its thumping, frantic

scratching, and

I pictured it, throwing itself against the sides of

the box;

A hysterical desperation to escape,

so vivid and raw that I almost could taste it.

A small life, driven by the instincts of self preservation,

confined to a paper prison.

I decided to keep it there, in the cardboard box.

At night, I imagined how it might’ve felt:

claustrophobic and cornered,

confusion suffocating its senses

as the darkness only seemed to get

smaller and smaller around it.

I wondered if its cornflower feathers

ever began to dull while it was in that box,

or if it somehow knew

that I wasn’t going to let it out.

I opened the box, and

the bird wasn’t dead, but

it didn’t seem to be alive, either.

The frenzied sapphire blur had been replaced

with an exhausted lump of feathers,

its survival instincts worn to the bone,

all out.


Barnet’s Brushed Tale by Xavier Kastner (first place)

In Barnet’s ballet of brush, a dream’s debut,

a watercolor waltz on a vellum’s view.

Carbon whispers secrets, a silent hum,

smiles in the hues, like a midnight drum.

Figures in flight, like shadows in the air.

A dream architecture, delicate and rare.

The canvas, the storyboard of nocturnal myths

each stroke narrates a tale to explore.

A tale unread, like pages in the night

Winds weave in a poetic sprite.

The dance on vellum, a story untold

1990’s dream, in each detail, bold.

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