Michigan writers are invited to write an original ekphrastic poem based on a work of art in the Muskegon Museum of Art’s permanent collection. Writers may choose between five pre-selected works of art.


Please join us for the Reading, Awards Ceremony, Reception on Thursday, April 13, 6-7 PM.




Congratulations 2023 Winners:

Click here to read the full poems from all winners and honorable mentions.



It is free to enter and open to all Michigan residents’ ages 18+. High school students in Muskegon County are also eligible to submit work. The contest guidelines, selected artwork, and the required entry form are found in the links below. Only digital submissions via Google Forms will be accepted.

The Muskegon Museum of Art will host a Writing Salon to celebrate the opening of the Art Talks Back Poetry Contest on Thursday, January 19, from 5:30-6:30 PM.

Art Talks Back 2023 | Competition Guidelines

Submit Your Poetry
Write an original, previously unpublished poem inspired by one of the Art Talks Back selections from the MMA permanent collection.
One entry allowed per person. Poem must be one single page PDF of your poem.

Any resident of the state of Michigan 18 and older may participate.
New this year, Muskegon County High School students may enter.
If under 18, be sure to have a parent or guardian complete the attached form.

Formatting Your Entry
All entries must include the following:
Title of poem
Title and artist of the artwork that inspired your entry
12 point, Times New Roman font, Single Page PDF
DO NOT include your name on any page of your submission; your name should only appear on the virtual entry form.

Please Note
All entries must follow the instructed format listed above for acceptance; failure to comply may disqualify your entry. By submitting work, writers give permission to the Muskegon Museum of Art to publish entries from this competition.

Dates + Events
Competition Begins | Thursday, January 19 at 12 AM
Writing Salon | Thursday, January 19, 5:30-6:30 PM
Competition Ends | Thursday, March 16, 11:59 PM
Notify the Winners | Tuesday, April 4, 5 PM
Reading, Awards Ceremony, Reception | Thursday, April 13, 6-7 PM

Ages 18+ Prizes
1st | $200 + One Year MMA Membership
2nd | $100 + One Year MMA Membership
3rd | $75 + One Year MMA Membership
Honorable Mentions | $25 Museum Store Gift Card + One Year MMA Membership

High School Prizes
1st | $100 + One Year MMA Household Membership
2nd | $75 + One Year MMA Household Membership
3rd | $50 + One Year MMA Household Membership
Honorable Mentions | $25 Museum Store Gift Card

Winning writers will be notified via email Tuesday, April 4 by 5 pm. A reading, awards ceremony, and reception will take place on Thursday, April 13, 6-7 PM. Prizes will be mailed if a winning writer is not present.

Questions? Contact the Curator of Education,

2023 Art Talks Back Contest Artwork

Pauline Palmer (American, 1867–1938)
The Village Church
Oil on canvas, not dated
Gift of André Aerne in honor of the 100th
Anniversary of the Muskegon Museum of Art


Françoise Gilot (French, b. 1921)
Le Singe Dans le Palais Venetien
Oil on canvas, 1964
Gift of anonymous donors


Preston Singletary (American – Tlingit, born 1963)
Grouse Rattle
Blown and sand-carved glass, metal, 2012
Museum purchase, Art Acquisitions Fund and a gift
in honor of Florence and Andy Wierengo


Jonathan Thunder (American – Ojibwe, born 1977)
Quarantine at Gramma’s House
Acrylic, 2020
Museum purchase, through the gifts of Steve Knoll, Knoll Inc., Mary E. Morrell in memory of Mr. and Mrs. George Morrell, and others, by exchange


Chuang Che (Chinese, born 1934)
Landscape 1977-79
Oil on canvas, 1977-79
Gift of John and Jessie Martin