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Ekphrastic Celebration

Purple Urchin

An Art Exhibition
Ekphrastic Poetry Competition


In the Purple Urchin Online Gallery



‘Ushering in Spring with Haiku’

The Nanaimo Arts Council invites artists and poets to the Ekphrastic Celebration, where poets craft a Haiku poem about a visual image they select from submitted artwork.

Phase 1: Artwork selection

The NAC Selection Committee will choose up to twenty-five original 2D works of art. The theme, ‘Ushering in Spring with Haiku,’ is a seasonal reference open to artists’ interpretation. NAC will feature the artwork in NAC’s Purple Urchin online gallery,

Art submissions open: May 2
Art submissions close: May 20
Exhibition opens: May 31

Phase 2: Poets respond to the artwork

Once open, poets may submit a Haiku poem responding to the artwork they chose from the exhibition.

Poetry submissions open: June 5
Poetry submissions close: June 23

Haiku poems …


are brief, usually three lines


written in the present tense

seldom use capital letters or punctuation, although some do

encapsulate a single impression or moment in time

provide colourful, vivid imagery

lead to a moment of illumination

“A haiku attempts to capture that aha! Moment. It’s a moment that you don’t want to forget. The moment, and not the syllables, is what is important. Haiku is written in the present tense, although there are exceptions: some haiku have no verbs.” Terry Ann Carter, 2011

Traditional Japanese Haiku poetry, adapted in English, contains 17 syllables in 3 lines of 5-7-5. The word ‘children’ has two syllables. Here is an example.

spring is in the air (5 syllables)

flowers are blooming sky high (7 syllables)

children are laughing (5 syllables)

Kaitlyn Guenther

Modern English Haiku usually contains fewer syllables and does not adhere to the 5-7-5 format. Here are two examples.


starry night

acorns popping


Jennifer Hambrick


Just friends:

he watches my gauze dress

blowing on the line.

Alexis Rotella

Phase 3: Judging and Awards:

Judges Kamal Parmar and Carla Stein will select the top three poems, and the NAC will award prizes to poets and artists whose artworks were chosen by a poet.

Online Award Ceremony: July 11

Public Presentation: TBD

There is no requirement for the top poems to be about different artworks.

  • Poetry first place: $250, associated artwork: $150
  • Poetry second place: $200, associated artwork: $150
  • Poetry third place: $150, associated artwork: $150

General Rules and Procedures

  • This competition is open to Nanaimo Arts Council members. Go to https://nanaimoartscouncil.ca/get-involved/memberships/ to join.
  • Visual artists may submit one piece with a $10 entry fee. The jury will select up to 25 works of art.
  • Poets may submit up to two poems with an entry fee of $10 per poem.
  • Individuals may enter as artists or as poets but not as both.
  • Fees are non-refundable.
  • Artists and poets must be aged 19 and above

Art Submission Rules and Procedures

  • The quality of the photos is one factor in selecting artworks for the exhibition. Please review the Guidelines for submission procedures, photography tips, and other details and requirements.
  • The artwork title and description will not be shown until after the poetry submissions have concluded. This is to avoid the poets being influenced by the artists choice of words.
  • You may sell your art. There is a 30% commission on sales through the site. Packaging and delivery costs are not included in the sale price and must be arranged between the purchaser and the artist.