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TMA Poetry Prize Contest

An Original Poetry Competition 

Visual art and poetry have been intertwined for centuries, each influencing the other. If you’ve ever been inspired by a work of art in the Museum’s collection, we invite you to participate in Discover, Inspire, Create: TMA Poetry Prize.

Still Life with Flowers and Peaches

(2021.12), Victoria DuBourg (French, 1840–1926).

Greene Building, Gallery 33


Previous entrants in TMA’s poetry contest (formerly the Ekphrastic Writing Contest), including finalists and winners, are welcome to participate with fresh material.

  • Residents of Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan are invited to participate. 

    • Eligible counties of residence include Allen, Auglaize, Defiance, Erie, Fulton, Hancock, Henry, Hillsdale, Huron, Lenawee, Lucas, Monroe, Ottawa, Paulding, Putnam, Sandusky, Seneca, Washtenaw, Wayne, Williams, Wood, and Wyandot. 

  • The contest for the Youth category is open to youth ages 11-17. 

  • The contest for the Adult category is open to adults 18+. 

Toledo Museum of Art employees and volunteers are not eligible to enter.

Docent-led Ekphrastic Writing Tour

Middle and high school teachers can request a Docent-led Ekphrastic Writing tour for their class and encourage their students to enter their resulting poems.

Eligible Artworks

Please select from below one of the eligible artworks that will inspire your unique and unpublished poem.

Guidelines Continued


A panel of judges will review and rank each entry based on originality, form, language, grammatical skill, and the creative interpretation or reflection of writing. Judges reserve the right to not grant an award if they feel no submission merits an award. 

Dustin Pearson is the author of A Season in Hell with Rimbaud (BOA Editions, 2022), Millennial Roost (C&R Press, 2018), and A Family Is a House (C&R Press, 2019). In 2019, The Root named Dustin one of nine Black poets working in “academic, cultural and government institutions committed to elevating and preserving the poetry artform.” He is an assistant professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at the University of Toledo where he teaches creative writing.

Hedyeh Elahinia is a physician-in-training, an artist, and a writer. She is a proud alumna of the Toledo Museum of Art's Family Center, where she spent countless hours playing and creating as a child and then volunteering as an adult. She co-founded The Lumen, UT's arts and literary medical humanities magazine, and holds a Master's degree in Narrative Medicine from Columbia University.

Ryan Bunch is a poet, writer, performance artist, and nonprofit administrator living in Toledo, Ohio. Ryan’s work has appeared in the Istanbul Literary Review, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Toledo City Paper, and others. Ryan’s public works focus on multimedia collaboration, including spoken word albums created with musician Lance Hulsey under the moniker Kyrux Macist and Human Poetry Machine, an interactive poetry-portraiture project with photographer Natalie Tranelli. Ryan currently serves as Studio Director at Toledo Design Collective and is the founder of Midcoast & the OHMI Midcoast Industrial Workshop, a conceptual art project building creative networks across Michigan and Ohio.

Adult Workshop Poet

Jonie McIntire, Poet Laureate of Lucas County, Ohio, has authored three chapbooks, including Semidomesticated (rereleased through Sheila-Na-Gig Editions in 2022), which won Red Flag Poetry’s 2020 chapbook contest. She is poetry editor at Of Rust and Glass and Membership Chair at Ohio Poetry Association. McIntire hosts Uncloistered Poetry from Toledo, Ohio. Learn about her at .

Poetry Workshops

We will offer an optional poetry writing workshop for Adults at the Toledo Museum of Art on February 3, 2024 and March 16, 2024 at 1:00pm. This is a 90-minute poetry workshop designed for adults. Let the art of the word inspire you to write a poem in response to a work of art. Participants will begin with a 60-minute poetry workshop guided by Lucas County Poet Laureate, Jonie McIntire and then end with a 30-minute Docent-led tour. Paper and pencils will be provided but you are welcome to bring your own supplies (journal, paper, pencil, or laptop). No prior experience is necessary to participate.

Registration is required as space is limited to 15 participants.
FREE with pre-registration.

You do not need to take a workshop to enter the contest.


Entries will be divided into two groups: Youth (ages 11-17) and Adult (18 and older). There will be one first place, one second place, one third place, and up to two honorable mentions in each group.      

1st • $200 + One Year TMA Membership
2nd • $100 
3rd • $75
Honorable Mention • $25 

Submission Guidelines

  • Entries must be submitted no later than midnight on March 22, 2024

  • You may only submit one poem for entry

  • Your poem must be inspired by one of the pre-selected artworks in the TMA’s collection

  • Your poem may contain up to 25 lines, or 300 words if prose

  • Do not type your name on any page of your submission; your name should only appear on the entry form

  • Your poem must be formatted as a Microsoft Word doc or PDF. Use 12-point Times New Roman font. All pages of your word doc or pdf file should include: 

    • The title of your poem.  

    • The artist of the artwork that inspired your entry. 

    • Save the word doc or pdf file as title of your work_artist of artwork. For example: A Poem For Her_Rachel Ruysch *Failure to format entries as instructed may disqualify your entry

To be considered, all submissions must be suitable for public consumption. Winning writers will be notified via email. A reading, awards ceremony, and reception will take place in the Glass Pavilion on Saturday, April 27th, at 4 PM-6 PM. Prizes will be available for pick up if contest winners are not present. 

2024 Dates + Events

January 22Contest Opens 
February 3Adult Writing Workshop with Poet Laureate Jonie McIntire + Docent-led Tour
March 16Adult Writing Workshop with Poet Laureate Jonie McIntire + Docent-led Tour
March 22Contest Closes
April 17Winners Notified
April 27 at 4pm-6pmAwards Ceremony + Reception in the Glass Pavilion


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