from Laylah Ali's Note drawing series

Marion Art Gallery Spring Exhibition

Ekphrastic Student Poetry Contest poster

Ekphrastic Student Poetry Contest 

Contest is sponsored by SUNY Fredonia’s Marion Art Gallery in collaboration with the English Department. Visit the Marion Art Gallery’s current exhibition Is anything the matter? Drawings by Laylah Ali. Choose a drawing or drawings as the basis for an ekphrastic poem.

1st prize $200, 2nd prize $150, 3rd prize $100, Honorable Mentions $50.

Contest Details

  • Eligibility: Open to all currently enrolled students at SUNY Fredonia
  • Prizes: 5 cash prizes totaling $550 and a publication
  • Deadline to submit: March 29, 2024, 11:59 pm
  • Notification of winners: April 9, 2024
  • Poetry Reading: Marion Art Gallery, Thursday, April 11 at 7 pm
  • Judges: English Department Faculty
  • To Enter:

Rules and Considerations

  1. Visit the current exhibition at the Marion Art Gallery in Rockefeller Arts Center, Is anything the matter? Drawings by Laylah Ali, and choose a drawing or drawings as the basis for your ekphrastic poetry. Gallery hours are: Tuesday-Thursday,12 to 4 pm; Friday & Saturday, 12 to 6 pm; Sunday, 12 to 4 pm; and by appointment.
  2. What is ekphrastic poetry? Ekphrastic poems use vivid language to describe or respond to a work of visual art.
    Consider the following approaches:
  • Write about the scene or subject being depicted in the artwork.
  • Write about your experience of looking at the art.
  • Relate the work of art to something else it reminds you of.
  • Imagine what was happening while the artist was creating the piece.
  • Write in the voice of the artist.
  • Write a dialogue among characters in a work of art.
  • Speak directly to the artist or the subject(s) of the piece.
  • Write in the voice of an object or person portrayed in the artwork.
  • Imagine a story behind what you see depicted in the piece.
  • Speculate about why the artist created this work.
  1. There is no established form for ekphrastic poetry. Any poem about art, whether rhymed or unrhymed, metrical or free verse, may be considered ekphrastic. There is no required number of lines or stanzas for this competition.
  2. Students may submit up to 3 poems. Poems can be about one drawing, a series of drawings or the entire Is anything the matter? exhibition.
  3. Include a thumbnail of the drawing or drawings that inspired you with your submission.


Is anything the matter, poster.
Is anything the matter? Drawings by Laylah Ali Exhibition dates are January 23 - April 14, 2024. Artist reception is Friday, January 26 from 6 to 9 pm at the Marion Art Gallery and an Artist Lecture by Laylah Ali will be given Friday, March 22, 4 to 5:30 pm in McEwen Hall room 209.

Is anything the matter? includes more than one hundred drawings dating from 1993 to 2020. Though the drawings range in format, they share a continuing theme of Laylah Ali’s ongoing interest in the amalgam of race, power, gendering, human frailty, murky politics, and other complex combinations that are so often treated as separate entities.

The exhibition, lecture, and reception are free and open to the public.

The gallery office in Rockefeller Arts Center P55 is open all summer, and past exhibition catalogs are available free of charge in the Marion Art Gallery lobby. They are also available online by using the links on the Past Exhibitions page. Most catalogs, including the three below, were designed by Jason Dilworth.

Dezso cover


New Shapes from Old Tropes cover

John Buck cover

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