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10 Poetry Competitions for High School Students

In a world brimming with technological distractions, the beauty of language often takes a backseat to emojis and abbreviations. Yet, within the vibrant realm of poetry lies a timeless art that captivates hearts and minds. Poetry is a powerful form of self-expression, allowing us to share our innermost thoughts and feelings with the world.


For high school students, poetry can be a creative outlet and a means of self-discovery. It can also be a stepping stone to exciting opportunities, such as poetry competitions. These competitions not only provide a platform for young poets to share their work but also offer valuable prizes, from cash awards to scholarships and publication opportunities.


Here are 10 poetry competitions that high school students can participate in.


The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is a popular competition for high school students offering a solid platform for participants to showcase their talent and receive feedback from esteemed judges and mentors. Teens in grades 7-12 (ages 13 and up) can apply in 28 categories of art and writing. Some categories include: Comic Art, Fashion, Jewelry, Mixed Media, Photography, Critical Essays, Poetry, Short Stories, and more. Creative teens are recognized with awards, exhibitions, publications, and scholarships (up to $12,500). In September Scholastic Awards will open for entries and the deadline begins in December through January (Look for information on your specific region for more details).


Prizes/Cost:

  • There is a fee of $10 (per individual entry) or $30 (for every portfolio). However, if this poses an issue, you can apply for a fee waiver!

  • You can earn scholarships starting from 2,500 if you become a National Medalist. Moreover, if you belong to one of these universities, you are eligible to avail more scholarships. You can get more details here!

Location: Remote

Submission Deadline: December through January

Eligibility:

  • Open to students who are ages 13 and up (Grade 7-12).

  • Must be enrolled in a U.S. high school.


Organized by the National High School Poetry Association, this competition invites high school students to submit their original poetry for a chance to win cash prizes and have their work published. Poems are accepted and published on a quarterly basis (every 3 months, 90 days). There is no entry fee to enter or win the contest. Only one poem per poet can be entered during any 90-day span. Poems must be 20 lines or less (title and spaces between stanzas do not count) and written in English.

The prizes and awards include:

  • “Poet of the Year”, the Easterday Poetry award of a $500 college scholarship.

  • “Best of Issue”, a $500 scholarship prize (chosen quarterly).

  • Editor’s Choice Selections, a $100 scholarship prize (chosen quarterly).

  • 20-30 “JUST POETRY!!!” winners, give a free copy of the JUST POETRY!!! quarterly (chosen quarterly).

  • Hundreds of “Topical Winners”, no compensation apart from being published (chosen quarterly).


Prizes/Cost: No entry fee; prize awards range between $100 - $500.

Location: Remote

Submission Deadline:

  • Spring Issue - March 31st

  • Summer Issue - June 30th

  • Fall Issue - September 30th

  • Winter Issue - December 31st

Eligibility:

  • Open to all U.S. high school students.


This international poetry competition is open to students aged 11-17 to submit their poetry for free. It is organized by The Poetry Society and offers the opportunity to be recognized as one of the best young poets worldwide. The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award closes for entries at midnight BST on 31 July 2023. You can submit as many poems as you would like and poems can be on any subject and any length. Everyone who enters the competition will receive an e-certificate to congratulate them on participating. You can enter as an individual or teachers can enter a class set.

Some of the prizes and awards for the winners include:

  • All 100 winners will be invited to a prestigious awards ceremony in London.

  • All 100 winners will receive a goody bag full of books and other treats donated by our generous supporters.

  • All 100 winners benefit from ongoing support and encouragement from the Poetry Society via publication, performance and an internship programme.

  • Top 15 winners will have their poems printed in the winners’ print anthology.

  • The top 15 winners will be invited to attend a life-changing residential writing course at one of the prestigious Arvon Centres, or receive alternative sustained mentoring from a professional poet.


Any questions, check the website or email them at fyp@poetrysociety.org.uk.


Prizes/Cost: No cost

Location: Remote

Submission Deadline (2023): 31st July, 2023

Eligibility:

  • Open to individuals between the ages of 11-17

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers is an esteemed poetry competition organized by The Kenyon Review, a renowned literary magazine. Named in honor of Patricia Grodd, a former editor of the magazine, the contest is open to high school sophomores and juniors from around the world. Young poets are invited to submit their original and unpublished poems for consideration. The competition offers a significant opportunity for emerging writers to showcase their poetic talent and be recognized by a prestigious publication. The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers competition serves as a launching pad for promising young poets, providing them with invaluable guidance and support to nurture their love for literature and pursue their creative aspirations. Submissions are accepted annually from November 1 through November 30.

Prizes and awards include:

  • The winner is awarded a full scholarship to attend the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop.

  • The winner and two runners-up will have their selected poems published in the print edition of the Kenyon Review and on their website.


Prizes/Cost: No cost

Location: Remote

Submission Deadline: November 30th of every year

Eligibility:

  • Open to high school sophomores and juniors.

Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation competition that encourages high school students in the United States to engage with and appreciate poetry. The competition is organized by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Poetry Foundation. Participants choose poems from an anthology of classic and contemporary works, memorize them, and then perform them in a compelling and expressive manner. Participants compete at the school, regional, and state levels, with the chance to win scholarships and advance to the national finals. Only currently enrolled students in grades 9-12 are eligible to participate. All poems must be selected from the Poetry Out Loud print or online anthology, which is updated every summer. Monetary prizes are awarded through The Poetry Foundation.


Prizes/Cost: No cost; prize amounts of up to $20,000 are awarded to national winners.

Location: Varies based on state

Competition Dates (2023):

  • Classroom Competitions - November to December, 2022

  • School Competitions/ Individual Competitions - December 2022 to January 2023

  • Regional Competitions - January to February 2023

  • State Finals - March 3rd, 2023

  • National Finals - While the date has not been specified, it most likely was conducted in the month of May.

Eligibility:

  • Open to all high school students (Note. There is an exception for grade 8 students who currently take high school classes.)

The Ocean Awareness Competition is a unique and impactful contest organized by Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs. It aims to engage young artists, writers, and activists in addressing pressing environmental issues related to our oceans. Participants are invited to submit their creative works, including visual art, poetry, prose, and multimedia projects, that raise awareness about ocean conservation and the need to protect marine ecosystems. The competition provides a powerful platform for youth to express their concerns, hopes, and ideas for a sustainable future. By participating in the Ocean Awareness Competition, young individuals can make a positive impact on environmental issues, showcase their talents and creativity, and be part of a global movement working towards preserving our oceans for generations to come.

The prizes for this competition vary each year, but they typically include:

  • Cash awards

  • Scholarships

  • Mentorship opportunities

  • The chance to have their works exhibited or published.

We have covered the competition in detail here!


Prizes/Cost: No cost

Location: Remote

Submission Deadline (2024): June 20th, 2024

Eligibility:

  • Students between the ages of 11-18 are eligible (Note. If you have started university, you are not eligible for this competition regardless of age)

The 2023 Rattle Poetry Prize is a prestigious and highly anticipated poetry competition organized by Rattle, a well-respected literary magazine known for showcasing contemporary poets and their diverse voices. Aspiring poets are invited to submit their best original work for a chance to win cash prizes, publication in Rattle magazine, and the opportunity to reach a wide audience of poetry enthusiasts. Participating in this esteemed competition not only offers the potential for recognition and exposure but also challenges poets to hone their craft and explore innovative approaches to storytelling and self-expression. The 2023 Rattle Poetry Prize promises to be an enriching experience that celebrates the power of poetry and allows writers to connect with a supportive community of fellow poets, making it a compelling opportunity for anyone passionate about sharing their poetic vision with the world.

Prizes include:

  • Contributors to the print magazine receive $200 and a complimentary one-year subscription. Poems for "Online" categories receive $100.

  • All submissions are automatically considered for the annual Neil Postman Award for Metaphor, a $2,000 prize judged by the editors.

  • Separate from general and themed (and always free) submissions, we also offer the annual $15,000 Rattle Poetry Prize and the Rattle Chapbook Prize—for each of those, a submission fee of $25 includes a one-year subscription to the magazine.

Cost: No cost unless you are applying to the Rattle Poetry Prize of Rattle Chapbook Prize where there is a submission fee of $25.

Location: Remote

Submission Deadline: General submissions are accepted year-round. If you wish to apply for a specific challenge, you can find the dates here!

Eligibility:

  • Open to everyone.

The River of Words competition is an environmentally-focused poetry and art contest for young writers and artists, founded by former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass and writer Pamela Michael. The competition aims to promote ecological awareness and inspire a deeper connection with nature by encouraging participants to express their observations, thoughts, and feelings about the environment through poetry and visual art. Open to students aged 5 to 19 years old, the River of Words competition provides a unique opportunity for young minds to engage with pressing environmental issues and explore the beauty of nature through artistic expression. The competition serves as a powerful platform for nurturing creativity, fostering environmental stewardship, and amplifying the voices of the next generation of environmentally-conscious artists and poets.

Prizes typically include:

  • Publication in the annual River of Words anthology

  • Certificates of recognition

  • Opportunities to attend special events or workshops related to art and the environment.


Prizes/Cost: No cost

Location: Remote

Submission Deadline (2023): January 31st, 2023

Eligibility:

  • Open to all students between the ages of 5 and 19.


The Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest is an annual poetry competition organized by Winning Writers, aimed at celebrating and promoting humor in poetry. The contest seeks witty, funny, and light-hearted poems that tickle the reader's funny bone and showcase the creative use of language and comedic elements. Open to poets worldwide, the Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest offers an opportunity for both emerging and established writers to share their humorous verse with a global audience. This contest not only celebrates the art of humorous poetry but also encourages poets to explore the lighter side of life and bring joy and laughter to readers through their witty verses. There is no fee to enter, submissions are open from August 15, 2023, through April 1, 2024.

Prizes include:

  • First Prize: $2,000 plus a two-year gift certificate from Duotrope (a $100 value)

Prizes/Cost: No cost

Location: Remote

Submission Deadline (2023-2024): August 15th, 2023 - April 1st, 2024

Eligibility:

  • Open to everyone.

The America Library of Poetry Student Poetry Contest is an annual competition that encourages young poets across the United States to share their artistic voice and creativity. Open to students from grades 3 to 12, the contest invites participants to submit their original poems for consideration. The organization aims to foster a love for poetry and language while providing a platform for young writers to showcase their work. The America Library of Poetry competition is a wonderful opportunity for aspiring poets to gain recognition for their literary talents and be part of a supportive community of young wordsmiths.

While the specific prizes offered may vary from year to year, they have traditionally included:

  • The publication of winning poems in an anthology

  • Certificates of achievement

  • Monetary prizes ranging from $50.00 to $500.00

  • Opportunities for students to attend poetry workshops or events


Prizes/Cost: No cost

Location: Remote

Submission Deadline: April 30th of each year.

Eligibility:

  • All students between grades 3-12.

Note. Employees and agents of The America Library of Poetry and their immediate families are ineligible and may not enter.



If you are interested in doing university-level research in literature, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Samantha Davenport is a socio-cultural anthropologist with experience in qualitative and ethnographic research. With a deep passion for understanding diverse cultures and societies, she has dedicated her career to conducting extensive field research and analysis amongst a variety of research projects. Samantha is driven by a desire to promote cultural understanding and bridge gaps between different groups.


Image Source: Scholastic Art & Writing Awards logo

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