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WINNERS! Ekphrastic Challenge

At last!

By Mackenzie DavisPublished 4 months ago Updated 4 months ago 5 min read
WINNERS! Ekphrastic Challenge
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

My absolute goodness! 26 amazing stories (7 of them Top Stories!), and when I tell you how close the winners were, you would not envy me assigning first, second, and third place.

Simply—ties galore!

It was a pleasure to read everyone’s lovely creations. The wide variety made it hard to grade, but you all landed so close to each other! (I'm very thankful I made a rubric because of this fact.)

I want to spotlight all my favorites, but there are just so many! From Angie the Archivist's echoing and sweet historical fiction, GA Botero’s shocking dystopian vignette, Suze Kay’s prickly slice o’life, Lamar Wiggins’ intriguing forest mystery…the list goes on (and on). You are all so talented. I cannot begin to express how much I admire each and every of you. Thank you for participating in what has been a complex and *hopefully* fun community challenge. I know I had a blast.






It’s a frickin’ tie. 🤣

Poppy with “The Day Paradise Shattered” AND

Hannah Moore with “Ascending!!"

Poppy offers a literary treat with “The Day Paradise Shattered.” Through blunt, yet captivating language, we see the prose side of The Poet. A mother and child hide away from some unknown danger. They experience each other, fully surrounded by nature and the act of creation.

Beautifully paced, the energy in this piece is overhung by a sense of doom. This is a story told from the end, and we see the future’s colors in every sentence.

“Every plate, bowl, mug, every item she moulded was a part of her. Once, she only had yellow and blue glaze. I used to think of the yellow covered pottery as her happiness, and the blue as her kindness.”

Just watch those vases come back.

This story had everything in spades. Full marks! Suze Kay’s enthralling photo fit perfectly with Poppy’s narrative voice and style.

Similarly, Hannah’s story containesan unspoken heartbreak. But while we see the tragedy in a more brutal way in Poppy’s story, in Hannah’s, you could blink and miss it. (Though you would know you did and go read it again.) Seeming to transcend time, we follow two young boys as they race along a field. Mike Singleton’s beautiful photograph sets the scene.

What struck me about this story was the dialogue. Rarely have I encountered it to be so smooth, believable, and child-like. There was not a single moment that my brain wandered or realized it was in a story as opposed to real-life. And that is an incredible feat.

“‘I reckon its a plane.’

‘Na, its a cloud.’

‘There's no cloud makes lines like that.’

‘How do you know, are you a scientist?’"

See what I mean? And that’s just the opener. The delicate balance between overwriting and underwriting is mastered in Hannah’s story. You’ll have to read it to know what I mean, but there is a skill present here that is to be celebrated.

Congratulations to Poppy and Hannah! Each winner will receive a $10 tip.




Judey Kalchik with “Life Happens”

In Judey’s story, we are thrust into the immediate aftermath of loss. Her prose is so matter of fact, bringing us directly into Jenn’s headspace as she returns home from the ER. Though the image is of a litter of puppies, it’s clear that the story is something else entirely.

“It was quiet. No trace of the worry and hurry that accompanied the emergency crew's race through the house yesterday, pushing and pulling a stretcher carrying her husband from their home to the ER.”

It’s a journey. Tiny, really, but the end is much too significant to brush away the walk we take through the house. And the final line will have you sobbing. I am not so easy to make cry but Judey got me.

Paul Stewart’s photo evoked an incredibly moving piece. Do go read it.

Congratulations, Judey!




Leslie Writes with “Sitting Duck”

It’s simple, but how we experience the plot is one surprise after another. I’ve not read a story that focuses so much on a shotgun, and it’s the perfect centerpiece here. At each decision, the gun is there. One surprise, two surprise, three surprise (four?). It’s the kind of progression that would not work visually; different techniques would need to be used to pull it off.

It’s redemption, rescue, and quite honestly, it’s a miracle. Please read this one if you haven’t already. Even if you have, go back and admire the craft.

The photo by Rachel Fendrich is seriously one of the cutest things I've ever seen. How Leslie got inspired for the story she wrote will forever boggle my mind.

Congratulations, Leslie!




Randy Jellison-Knock with “The Whole”

What a masterclass in horror. (And there’s now a sequel!) It’s a slow burn type of creep, but utterly immersive. An ice fishing trip gone…well, just gone. Definitely worth multiple readings.


Rachel Fendrich with “The Train to Karunda”

The main character will surprise you! But first a super unique take on an old Australian myth. This is such a cool story. I definitely recommend y’all read this one!


Gerard DiLeo with “Down to Earth”

If this wasn’t runner up, it would have been an honorable mention. One of my favorites! The premise for the allegory is genius, and the execution gives John Cheever’s “The Swimmer” vibes. Please go read it!

Congratulations, all!



Honorable Mentions

Those stories that stuck with me (unrelated to the rubric's list above).

Paul Stewart's "A Plumeria to Remember" — The tears are bound to come with this one. Such a heartfelt piece. One of my Paul favorites.

ROCK's "Two Parakeets on a Wire" — This story made me laugh so much! But the ending really anchors the narrative.

Andrei Z's "A Boat Trip" — Utterly unique, and almost like a puzzle in its minimalism. Very "Andrei" and one that I expect will pop into my memory for years.



Now, I didn't get anyone telling me a different form of payment for the tips. Due to this fact, I'll be sending them as soon as tomorrow morning. If you happen to have Ko-fi, Patreon, or any other platform that you prefer I use rather than Vocal's tip system, let me know in the next 14 hours.

Before I sign off, I want to ask your genuine opinion on the challenge process. How did you find it? Any tips for improvement? I'm so excited to run this challenge again and I want to iron out the kinks before I do.

Oh and one more thing.

Unfortunately, a few photos didn’t end up with a story (I understand why, but I would love to see them be used!). So, if you took one of these pictures, I want your input: Is it okay if I post it in a new article so anyone who sees it can use it as writing inspiration?

Okay... I think that's all.


Congratulations to everyone! I wish I could award every story that was submitted, but please know that I enjoyed every single one.

Thank you all again. 💗

See you in the next one!



For a full list of entries, please see below! I’ve linked them alphabetically. (Yes, the links take you to the stories, not the profiles.)

Top Stories

The Remaining Wonders


About the Creator

Mackenzie Davis

“When you are describing a shape, or sound, or tint, don’t state the matter plainly, but put it in a hint. And learn to look at all things with a sort of mental squint.” Lewis Carroll

Find me elsewhere.

Copyright Mackenzie Davis.

Reader insights


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Comments (22)

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  • M. Lee4 months ago

    Congratulations to everyone! Mackenzie, you are so awesome and inspiring! Love that you did this. ❤️

  • Paul Stewart4 months ago

    Oh, thank you for the honourable mention, Mackenzie. Well done to Judey, Hannah, Poppy, Gerard, Rachel, Leslie and Randy. I have some reading to catch-up on and thank you to Mackenzie, pal, for running this great challenge!

  • Alexander McEvoy4 months ago

    Congratulations everyone! This was a super fun challenge and I look forward to seeing you all again next time :)

  • G. A. Botero4 months ago

    Thanks for hosting this contest. I loved the idea with the photos. I can't think of anything to change. Just waiting for the next one.

  • Gerard DiLeo4 months ago

    Thanks, Mackenzie Davis, for your very flattering contribution!

  • Wooohooooo congratulations everyone! 🎉💖🎊🎉💖🎊

  • Kenny Penn4 months ago

    Congratulations to all the winners! Great job putting this together Mackenzie, so many great entries!

  • Andrei Z.4 months ago

    Yay, congratulations everyone! You, Mackenzie, came up with such a cool idea for a challenge and then brought it to life! Kudos to your work and skills to inspire other people to do some great writing!

  • Leslie Writes4 months ago

    Awesome! I am honored! Thank you, Mackenzie 🤗 for running such a wonderful, inspiring challenge! And thank you Rachel for submitting the duckling photo 🦆💖 Congratulations to all the winners and contributors! I’ve read a handful so far and I aim to read the rest tonight after work 🎉

  • ROCK 4 months ago

    Thank you 🙏 Mackenzie for your honourable mention: it was a sweet surprise.

  • Great job Mackenzie… excellent challenge; judging (love the marking criteria) etc… lots of wonderfully varied stories resulted.🤩✅ Congratulations to the placegetters & everyone for their great stories.

  • Hannah Moore4 months ago

    Woohoo! Congratulations everyone, and Mackenzie in particular, this one was a bit of a fear to pull off! I really enjoyed doing it though, a different challenge for my brain, and I was actually pretty proud of the piece I wrote in the end, which doesn't happen often! I need to read quite a few of these that I've missed though!

  • Rachel Deeming4 months ago

    Congratulations, winners! Thanks for such a great challenge, Mackenzie.

  • Judey Kalchik 4 months ago

    Congratulations- and thank you for this challenge- I’d never done something like it before And thank you, Paul, for the photo. (I’ll need to go through the entries. If the photo I contributed wasn’t used please do include it in future challenges!)

  • Lamar Wiggins4 months ago

    What a great challenge! You deserve some type of award for all the hard work you did in putting this all together from start to finish. I've read most of them. Will definitely read the rest! Thank you and congrats everyone!

  • Delightful choices. I enjoyed every one of them that I've read. I still need to check out those I haven't that weren't among the winners. Congratulations one & all & thank you.

  • Donna Fox (HKB)4 months ago

    Congrats to all the winners!! This was such a great challenge Mackenzie!! I appreciate you for putting it on and doing all the hard work in organizing/ judging!! You've definitely earned a rest!! 😅

  • Lana V Lynx4 months ago

    Congratulations to everyone! This prompt produced amazing stories indeed, and I'm off to reading those I didn't read before.

  • sleepy drafts4 months ago

    Woohooo! Congratulations, everyone!! This prompt seriously produced some amazing pieces. I'm looking forward to the next one! Thank you for hosting this Mackenzie!! These have been a delight to read since you announced the challenge. 💗

  • Poppy 4 months ago

    OMG thank you Mackenzie!! This was a wonderful surprise🥰 so honoured to tie with Hannah! I’ve been slack and need to read the other entries asap!! I’ll also come back and properly read this when I’m at home but I’ve got to say I love how you presented all this. So satisfying!😂 and also, good job on using your iconic marking criteria, that must be so much work! Congrats to everyone and thanks Mackenzie for running it! Was a wonderful idea and I can’t wait for the next one. Oh and also, writing stories for the photos that didn’t get one is also a great idea!!

  • Randy Baker4 months ago

    Congrats everyone!

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