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writing contest guidelines


We are so excited to announce that we are collaborating with Healthline Zine and Swim Press to hold our 2023 Writing Contest! Please follow the guidelines below to submit and ensure that your work can be judged appropriately and fairly.

Please note that we welcome entries from writers and poets across all ages and nationalities, regardless of The Cloudscent Journal's age limit. All submissions are to be mailed to by midnight, your timezone, March 1st, 2023.


Thank you to everyone who submitted to our contest! We were struck by the amount of talent and wonderful work we received, and without further ado, here are the winners of the 2023 Ekphrasis Contest with Healthline Zine, The Cloudscent Journal, and swimpress. Congratulations!

Poetry Winners

First Place | "the photoelectric effect & other tragedies of the universe" by Liam Strong

Second Place | "On Bohnen's Summer Night" by Connor Donovan

Third Place | "Rhapsody in Gray" by Candance Williams

Prose Winners

First Place | "The Shadow People" by Sara Buckley

Second Place | "Collapse/Exile/Orgasm" by Lindsey Bryant

Third Place | "The Plea of the Lost" by Smrithi Senthilnathan



Three winners will be chosen from each category (prose and poetry) and will receive the following prizes: 

  • Document with detailed review by initial submission reader and guest judge.

  • Expedited submission ticket to all three magazines. 

    • Tickets from each magazine can be individually attached to submissions for any of their upcoming issues and this will guarantee their feedback and confirmation of acceptance or rejection within five business days. The ticket may only be used once within its term of validity.

  • Each participating magazine will pick one of the top three entries in each category to publish as a special feature in their upcoming issues.

  • Since we hold the collective belief that art is subjective and thus impossible to rank to a definitive degree, all three winning pieces will be equally considered by the three magazines and each piece will be chosen by one that discovers it to be the clearest echo of its mission.

  • Interviews with winners will be posted on their publishing magazine’s blog and social media.

  • Additionally, first place winners will be eligible to receive a cash prize of $20.


The Writing Contest's Theme is EKPHRASIS. Ekphrasis translates to description in Greek, and by analyzing and reflecting on the perceptible actions and environment in the artwork while channeling it through a creative's mind, the participating artist epitomizes its potential meaning and may choose to add their original interpretive narrative to it.


It is an exercise in appreciating the complexities of another's work of art and allowing the mind to roam within the confines of an unfamiliar portrait; ensnared and unbound. 


Select one of the THREE picture prompts below to inspire your writing. 

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Summer Night (1925) | Aloys Bohnen

A description of the artwork by Bowers Museum - “Among tidepools formed in a eucalyptus grove, women in ballgowns and men wearing cravats stroll and gossip. An elegant, bashful lady in centre frame angles her head ever so slightly, covers her mouth, and stares right at the viewer as if she has a message to convey. Above, paper lanterns hang like orange stars in the night’s otherwise lightless sky. The scene is one of quiet sophistication.”


Aloys Bohnen was the son to Dutch immigrants who lived in New York and San Diego. Well known for his pencil portraiture and sketching portraits, he worked as a muralist before he became an instructor at the Coronado School of Fine Arts.

The Lost Tribe (1975) | Jehangir Sabavada

A description of the artwork by The Serigraph Studio – “The Lost Tribe rises in parallel strata: first rocks, dunes and shrubs; above them, receding horizons; higher still, snow-capped peaks and mountain-like clouds; and in the sky, minatory birds, their wings spread wide above their potential prey, circling above the lost tribe like great clouds.”


Jehangir Sabavala was a prominent member of the first generation of postcolonial Indian artists who is also considered one of the pioneers to develop artwork informed by international tastes that remains true and reflective of the textures and imagery of local culture. In an interview with Nancy Adajania, Sabavala revealed, “The landscape[s] served as an escape, a liberation from the pain.”

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falling star.jpeg

Falling Star (1884) | Witold Pruszkowski

A description of the artwork by the Animated Museum — “In this symbolic painting, a half-naked female figure stands out in the depths of sky and space. The figure [is] absorbed in a kind of ecstasy, wrapped in clouds and stellar dust that [resemble] celestial veils. These ethereal veils [are] animated as if they [are] in the act of evaporating, dissolving in space. A shooting star has fallen on her forehead, [and] the stars that surround her […] [pulse] with a slight light, […] ethereal clouds of gas and stellar dust [moving] [alongside her] in space.”


Witold Pruszkowski was born in 1846 and spent his youth in Odessa and Kiev. He studied under Tadeusz Gorecki in Paris and moved to Munich and Krakow and studied under Jan Matejko in the latter city. He began as a portrait painter and in 1884 moved to a small village outside of Krakow where his subject matter became legends, fables and folk-tales. He painted Falling Star during this period and he died in 1896. This particular masterpiece is at the National Museum in Warsaw.

General Guidelines

Contestants may choose only one of the three provided prompts to inspire their piece. Each contestant can submit one entry, either poetry or prose. Multiple submissions will not be accepted.

Prose word limit: 2,000 words. Maximum lines for poetry: 40 lines, disregarding empty spaces.

The piece is to be formatted in Times New Roman font, size 11, with 1.5 line spacing and justified alignment, and converted to a PDF before submitting. The title of the piece is to be mentioned at the beginning of the document along with the name of the artwork utilised. [Example: Sample Piece — The Lost Tribe]. Final word or line count should be mentioned below the title clearly. The contestant’s name or any such identifying marks should not be added to the document. Pieces that do not comply with this will be disqualified.

Needless to say, the submitted work should not contain profanities, offensive content, and any triggering topics — which we ask you to wisely avoid unless fundamental to the art — should be accompanied with trigger warnings at the beginning of the document.

The subject line should contain the title of chosen prompt, contestant’s name, and title of submitted work. [Example: Summer Night — B. Smith — Sample TitleThe body of the mail should comprise of the contestant’s full name and/or pseudonym, their pronouns, social media handles (for contact purposes, if any), backup Email address, and a brief third-person account of themself. Additionally, contestants may choose to include a short writeup in the body of the mail that talks about why the prompt spoke to them, context or details of their submission, etc. Note that this will not be considered by the reading team or guest judges.


No edits will be accepted once the submission has been received. You will receive a reply mail indicating your submission has been received. In the event of not receiving this mail three days after the end of the submission period, kindly send a follow-up mail to the submission address and contact Healthline Zine on Instagram (@healthlinezine). 


Winners will be contacted via the Email address that has sent the submission. If your piece has not made it, the mail of receipt will be our final communication with you. The decision of the guest judge is binding, and please know that our reading team will care for your piece and ensure it is presented to the best of its potential.

That's all! We wish you the best of luck.

Guest Judges

Please welcome our guest judges for this contest! There will be a separate guest judge for each category, poetry and prose respectively. We are so thankful for them and everything they have done for the commmunity.


Ashley Hajimirsadeghi

Ashley Hajimirsadeghi is an Iranian American writer and artist. She is the author of the chapbooks cartography of trauma (dancing girl press) and cinephile (Ghost City Press). She is an M.A. Candidate in Global Humanities at Towson University, and graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BS in International Trade & Marketing, an AAS in Fashion Business Management, and minors in Film and Media, English, Asian Studies, and American Studies. She is co-Editor-in-Chief at Mud Season Review. A six-time Best of the Net and two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Ashley has received scholarships, awards, and fellowships from Brooklyn Poets, the US State Department, the State University of New York (SUNY), COUNTERCLOCK, the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, and the University of Arizona, among others.


M.T. Khan

M.T. Khan is a speculative fiction author with a penchant for all things myth, science, and philosophy. She focuses on stories that combine all three, dreaming of evocative worlds and dark possibilities.


When she's not writing, M.T. Khan has her nose deep in physics textbooks or glued to her CAD computer as she majors in Mechanical Engineering. Born in Lahore, Pakistan, she currently resides in Toronto, Canada, with a hyperactive cat and an ever-increasing selection of tea. Her debut novel, Nura And The Immortal Palace, hit shelves on July 5th 2022 from Little, Brown.

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