Literary Programs

ARTlines Poetry Competition

Ekphrastic poetry may include literal description of a work of art, personal memories, or metaphorical associations inspired by art, or the poet´s mood at that place and time.

The ARTlines ekphrastic poetry competition, cosponsored by the MFAH and Public Poetry in the fall of 2011, invited submissions about nine works of art selected by curatorial staff to represent the museum's major collection areas.

ARTlines submissions were reviewed by a distinguished jury including David M. Parsons, the 2011 Texas Poet Laureate; Jan Seale, the 2012 Texas Poet Laureate; Paul Ruffin, the 2009 Texas Poet Laureate; Carmen Tafolla, the Inaugural Poet Laureate of San Antonio; and poet Van G. Garrett.

During National Poetry Month in April 2012, the ARTlines winners and jurors read their poems at the MFAH, with audio from two invited poets: Barbara Crooker and Pattiann Rogers.

ARTlines Collected Poems: Cell-Phone Tour + Printed Booklet
Poems by the ARTlines winners, honorable mentions, jurors, and invited poets are still available through the museum's cell-phone tour program, and in a booklet. To see a printed-and-bound copy of the booklet, stop by the Kinder Foundation Education Center on the lower level of the Law Building. Both resources are also available as downloadable PDFs:

For a guide to the cell-phone stops, click here.
For a copy of the booklet, click here.

Writers Workshops at the MFAH


Ekphrasis—literally "to speak out"—is a genre of writing about art in any form: poetry or prose, critical or creative.

The MFAH works with Van G. Garrett, a Houston-based literary artist, to develop workshops that relate to different aspects of the museum’s art collections and exhibitions.

MFAH Writers Workshops

Ekphrasis, literally "to speak out," is a genre of writing about art in any form: poetry or prose, critical or creative.

The MFAH has worked with Houston-based and internationally celebrated literary artist Van G. Garrett to develop three workshops that relate to different aspects of the exhibition WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath.

The workshops begin with ice-breaker activities to introduce the theme and stimulate creativity; include access to the WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY exhibition with a gallery talk focused on the day's theme; provide writing prompts and time to reflect and write; allow one-on-one conference time with Garrett; and include lunch, beverages, and snacks.

Instigators & Triggers
Saturday, November 17, 2012
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Conflict is inevitable. In politics, war is considered legitimate only as a last resort. After failed civil conversation and tense negotiation comes instigation. At home, there are marital spats and sibling rivalries. In schools and workplaces are bullies and power plays. Can writers objectively answer  questions such as "Who started it?" "Who is right or wrong?" and "Is this fight worthwhile?" Or are emotions an immutable influence?

Letters from/to Home
Saturday, December 29, 2012
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Bravery and fear. Camaraderie versus enemies. Luck and misfortune. Letters from the front have provided hope, amplified worry, and confirmed heartbreak. And from home to those in the field, words provide comfort, fond memories, and news of births and deaths, graduations and marriages. Can you imagine yourself in a foxhole or an armed convoy writing to a loved one back home? What could you write, as a parent or sibling, to a loved one serving overseas?

In Memoriam
Saturday, January 26, 2013
11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

From elegies and eulogies to odes and obituaries, much writing has tried to capture the tragic loss of life resulting from armed conflict. How might you memorialize the young men and women who take up arms in offense or defense? The civilians caught in the crossfire? The scorched earth that can grow no more? The fields where blood was spilled and bodies buried? For once the guns fall silent, water laps gently at distant shores like countless tears shed.

About Van G. Garrett
Van G. Garrett´s poetry and essays have been published in journals and anthologies based in the United States, England, Switzerland, Turkey, and several African nations. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, served as a judge for the National Poetry Slam and the ARTlines Competition (co-sponsored by the MFAH and Public Poetry), and refereed for the International Journal of Asian Philosophical Association (IJAPA). Garrett earned an MA in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Houston-Victoria, a BA from Houston Baptist University, and a Certificate in African American Studies from the University of Houston.