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Poetry and Spoken Word Competition 2018

Full Details

*This competition is now closed but you are still more than welcome to respond to this prompt!*

“Poetry lays the foundations for a future of change," wrote Audrey Lorde. From the lines of Langston Hughes ushering in the Harlem Renaissance, to women in modern-day Afghanistan secretly sharing their poems over social media, to spoken word artists calling for change in our streets and schools, poetry has long celebrated the rhythms of language and the right of self-expression, all while sowing the seeds for revolution. This month, give us the world in a new form, conjuring poetry into stanzas, meter, or free verse; or with an original piece of spoken word (poetry performed aloud). We’ll award two top prizes—one for a written poem, and one for a recorded performance.  

Guiding Ideas
  • THE FORM: From the strict sonnet to the unbridled free verse, all forms of poetry are welcome. 
  • THE RHYTHM: Like musicians, poets are highly attuned to the rhythm of language. It’s sometimes assumed that poems should therefore rhyme, but many come to life with non-rhyming cadence. Poets use repetition of sounds, the positioning of stressed and unstressed syllables, and pauses and line breaks to build rhythm. Check out the Glossary resource for more information.  
  • THE LANGUAGE: “Poetry lifts the veil from the hidden beauty of the world, and makes familiar objects be as if they were not familiar,” wrote Percy Bysshe Shelley. Poets, this is a tall order! You must magnify certain parts of the world so the reader can experience them, as if for the first time. Can the sea be described in such a way that the reader feels she is seeing it (or smelling/hearing/feeling it) in a new way? Imagery and other forms of sensory description are one of your primary engines, but you can also utilize figurative language (symbolism and metaphor), drawing a non-literal comparison to shed new light on your subject matter. Look in the Glossary for examples. 
  • THE HISTORY: Read poems, and listen to spoken word! Spend just as much time absorbed in the work of other poets as writing poems yourself. This is how we learn technique, and also learn where we fit within the history of poetry. Read poems from decades long past as well as those written yesterday. 
A Note on Spoken Word
Spoken word pieces are meant to be performed. In addition to considering the rhythm and cadence of your poem, take time to practice elements such as projection, enunciation, pauses and eye contact. Watching these performances will give you a sense of how the delivery of a piece creates mood and meaning just as much as the words themselves. You’ll also notice that the spoken word genre celebrates authenticity of voice and subject matter. As you experiment with your own lines, remind yourself that the power of spoken word comes from writing about what matters most to you, and expressing these sentiments in your own voice. 
How to Record and Submit a Video File (optional)
This month, we'll award a prize for the best spoken delivery as well as one for the best written poem. If you’d like to create a video version or audio recording, you may use any platform of your choice—simply copy the link within the text of your submission. Some options to consider: 
You Tube 
Adobe Spark 
Please note that these are public platforms and are not affiliated with WtW. If you need assistance getting started, please contact  
Who is Eligible?   
Young writers ages 13-18   
Guest Judge
Amanda Gorman
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions? 
Prizes: The winning entrant(s) will receive $100, and the best peer-reviewer will receive $50.       
Professional Recognition: The winning entry, plus the runner-up and best peer review, will be featured on our blog, with commentary from our guest judge.       
Expert Review: Submit your draft by Monday April 9th and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.   

In partnership with Mass Poetry
We’re excited to partner with Mass Poetry to bring you this month’s competition. Mass Poetry works to broaden the audience of poetry readers, bring poetry to readers of all ages, and transform people’s lives through inspiring verse.

Key Dates 
April 2: Competition Opens  
April 9: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)      
April 13: Reviews returned to Writers  
April 17: Final Submissions Due
April 27: Winners Announced  
Upcoming Competition
Our Food Writing Competition opens Monday, May 7th.
Stay tuned for more details!