NM Department of Cultural Affairs launches ekphrastic poetry contest inspired by artwork in its collections


Art and poetry lovers rejoice: New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (NMDCA) has launched a statewide ekphrastic poetry contest dedicated to finding written inspiration in pieces of artwork on view around the state.

"The artwork on display throughout the Department of Cultural Affairs reminds us that beauty and inspiration are all around us,” said NMDCA Director of Communications and Marketing Daniel Zillmann. “On behalf of the Department, we’re pleased to launch a poetry contest that highlights and celebrates the best of our collections throughout New Mexico.”

In preparation for National Poetry Month in April, NMDCA divisions across New Mexico have selected 10 works of art that showcase the best of their collections. These images are on display at nmculture.org/poetry and are as varied as the institutions that house them: ranging from photographs of life in early New Mexico statehood on display in the New Mexico History Museum on the Santa Fe Plaza, to cosmic depictions of the universe’s vastness at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo. However, each piece of art contributes to New Mexico’s artistic and cultural heritage in its own small way.

“This project is an incredible opportunity to not only highlight the diverse collection of art of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, but also to showcase the creativity and talent flourishing throughout our state,” said Noël Bella Merriam, Artistic Director at the National Hispanic Cultural Center and one of the contest judges.

Throughout the month of March, New Mexicans will have the chance to write and submit ekphrastic poetry that responds to any of these 10 selected artworks. Drawing from the Greek word ekphrasis, meaning “description of a work of art,” an ekphrastic poem is one that’s inspired by works of art. Ekphrastic poems may be any length and use any poetic style, but submissions must be complete poems and must respond to the works of art on display.

Poems may be submitted using the ‘Submit Your Poem’ link on nmculture.org/poetry. The contest includes two categories, Youth (6th to 12th graders only) and Adult. Please select your category when you submit your poem. Individuals may submit one poem for review during the contest. All poems must be submitted by Sunday, March 31.

Each submission will be judged anonymously by New Mexico Poet Laureate Lauren Camp and a panel of experts. From there, 10 Adult winners and 10 Youth winners – one winner for each artwork on both tracks – will be selected by the panel and announced on April 15. Winners will receive a pair of NMDCA Culture Passes, which allows access to each of NMDCA’s 15 museums and historic sites, and other fun surprises!

Head to nmculture.org/poetry today to learn more and get inspired by the 10 artworks.

About New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs: Created in 1978 by the New Mexico Legislature, the Department of Cultural Affairs (NMDCA) is New Mexico’s cultural steward, charged with preserving and showcasing the state’s cultural riches. With its eight museums, eight historic sites, arts, archaeology, historic preservation, and library programs, NMDCA is one of the largest and most diverse state cultural agencies in the nation. Together, the facilities, programs, and services of the Department support a $5.6 billion cultural industry in New Mexico.