Poetry comes from the highest happiness and the deepest sorrow. A.P.J Abdul Kalam.
Poetry, when used as a creative outlet, can produce work that is deeply personal to you. It can be a channel for the parts of your life that bring you joy and the parts that aren’t so positive. Poetry’s diversity originates in the diversity of its writers.
On one side of the spectrum, some writers love to share their work with others and on the other side, there are writers that take their work a little more personally. If you happen to lean more on the side of sharing, there are different ways of not only giving your writing visibility but even earn you prizes.
Online poetry platforms and literary magazines are always looking for way to encourage people to write, that’s why so many of them sponsor writing contests and poem competitions! By being a contestant you will have the opportunity to share your work alongside other professionals in the field.
Your originality might even earn you grand prizes if chosen as a finalist! Judges that appreciate the art of poetry evaluate your contest entry. These writing competitions do not only give prizes to the winner, second place winners and other runner-ups also have the chance to earn rewards.
How to Find Poetry Contests to Enter
There are plenty of options if you would like to submit your verses to poetry contests. Whether you are into these contests for the prize money or the recognition, knowing where to find contests is crucial.
A variety of writing competitions are available online, at your school, and even by local newspapers and literary magazines.
Finding Contests Online
A quick Google search for “Poetry contests in my city” would be a great place to start. There are numerous websites that can guide you to fining the right contest to enter. Online contest and submission websites can give you immediate feedback and have small or no entry fees.
The Poets and Writers website is a great cumulative resource to finding poetry contests. Their database includes details and information about the different contests including deadlines, entry fees, and cash prizes. On their website you will be able to filter through contests, based on their guidelines and your eligibility.
If you are not looking for contest, but simply a place where to share your work, there are online platforms built for just that.
Finding Contests at Your University
If you are a student, there are probably plenty of options in your own institution. Universities literature departments usually have contests through out the year for students. Reach out to someone on the staff or look out for any announcement boards for contests.
University contest are not exclusive to poetry, you may also be able to submit creative nonfiction, short story, and even screenwriting entries. University staff might also be willing to help you revise and edit your contest entries.
The Academy of American Poets established the University and College Poetry Prize program which covers over 200 annual poetry prizes at colleges and universities across the U.S. Check out the Academy’s website to see if your school is listed as a participant in their program.
Finding contests by Your Local Newspaper
Local newspapers and magazines also look for young writers to enter their contests. The winners are usually published in special editions of the newspapers and receive recognition from the newspaper patrons.
The NY Times has a poetry contest every spring for teens. They recently published the winners of their annual black out poetry contest, where the participants were asked to black out parts of NY Times articles in order to reveal only the parts of the verses that they wanted to show.
In honor of April being National Poetry Month, the Washington Post hosts a poetry-writing contest for children. Their top winners are printed on their special edition of the KidPost. The contest is open to chidden of ages 5 to 14 and have to be original works.
These are just a couple of examples of the newspapers that advertize contests. Make sure to look out for announcements in your local newspaper.
Other contests announcements can be found in local libraries, city halls, community centers or local book shops.
Popular US Poetry Competitions
There are a great variety of poetry competitions offered to writers across the US. The following are a couple of the most notable contests.
Walt Whitman Award
The Academy of American Poets is an organization that prints the bi-yearly issue of American Poets in April and October of each year. They showcase work of American poets both past and present. It is a great place to look for contemporary and classic poetry verses.
Alongside their creative writing programs, The Academy of American Poets sponsors a contest for poetry book manuscripts. It is called the Walt Whitman Award and gives the winner a $5,000 first-book publication grand prize.
The award was first introduced in 1975 in the hopes of encouraging American poets to publish their first poetry books. The contest prize an all-expense-paid trip to a residency at the Civitella Ranieri Center.
Submissions are accepted between September 1 and no later than November 1 of each year.
The Emerging Poet Prize
Palette Poetry is an online platform for writers and poets. Their main goal is to “find and publish the best poetry we can, no matter its roots in craft.” The site encourages poets to submit pieces throughout the year to be published on their site, in addition to sponsoring a coveted poetry competition.
The Emerging Poet Prize by Palette Poetry is an annual poetry contest that usually takes place in the summer. Their contest prize is of 3,000 dollars! The editors of Palette Poetry choose the top ten finalists and their guest judge selects the winner and the two runner-ups.
Submissions for the Emerging Poet Prize are open internationally from June 15th to August 15th. In order to be eligible to win the prize, you must be an “emerging poet”, meaning that you may not have more than two full-length collections published.
Both Palette Poetry and The Academy of American Poets websites are also great resources for classic and contemporary works of poetry. If you are looking for poems that will inspire you to write the perfect submission to these contest, look no further than our tips for finding poems online.
Poetry Awards by Writer's Digest
Multiple magazines also have poetry competitions, one of the most well know magazines is Writer’s Digest. It’s aimed at beginning and established writers and contains interviews, market listings, calls for fiction and non-fiction manuscripts, and how-to articles.
In addition, to their International Self-Published Book Awards and their short stories contest, they also have a contest geared for poets.
The Poetry Awards first-place winner will receive $1,000 in cash and have their work published in Writer’s Digest July/August issue of the following year. The top 25 runner ups receive cash prizes and copies of the Poet’s Market.
Check out their website to look over the guidelines and how to enter their short story, fiction writing, and poetry competitions.
There are a couple of other options if you are still looking for different types of contests for poetry. The Poetry Society of America has a great selection of other poetry competitions for residents of cities and states across the US.
Find a poetry tutor right here on Superprof to help polish your work and make it more submittable.
Tips for Winning a Poetry Competition
When you find a poetry contest that you would like to send a submission for, make sure to explore the following tips on winning a poetry competition.
- Avoid common and predictable topics. If you want to win, make sure to think outside of the box.
- Understand the type of poetry that the contest is asking for. You might also want to read the work of previous winners in order to understand what the judges might be looking for.
- Keep rhyming schemes and poetic meters in mind. Try your best not to force phrases to rhyme.
- Do not wait until the last minute to turn in your submission.
- Pay attention to guidelines, keep in mind the contest deadline, word count, and check if a cover page will be needed.
A last great tip is to always keep reading, the more poetry you read, the more you will be inspired to write great words of your own. Click here to find the best poetry collections in print.