What remains of my childhood / are the fragmentary visions / of large patios / extending / like an oceanic green mist over the afternoon. (Oscar Gonzales)
What are your origins, dear writers? From where does your family originate? How was your community derived? What has shaped your sense of place? Your sense of home? The language on your tongue? What connects you to the earliest days of your childhood?
This month, write a poem about origins. From the country of your ancestors to the city where you were born to the place you first felt you could really be yourself, tell us, in a poem, what “origins” mean to you.
Poetry Guiding Ideas
Who is Eligible?
- 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) anew? 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 SPEAKER. THE OCCASION. THE VOICE. Who is speaking the words of your poem? Is the reason for their expression clear to the reader? Is their persona (their emotions, thoughts, and motivations) shining through? Every poem has a speaker with a voice, and a particular reason (the stakes!) for speaking at this moment.
Young writers ages 13-19
400 words or less
Carla Panciera is a poet, author, and high school English teacher in Massachusetts. Her work has appeared in several journals including Poetry
, The New England Review
, and The Chattahoohee Review
. She has published two collections of poetry—One of the Cimalores
and No Day, No Dusk, No Love
—as well as a collection of short stories, Bewildered
, which received AWP’s 2013 Grace Paley Short Fiction Award. Her latest book, Barnflower: A Rhode Island Farm Memoir
, details her life growing up on a dairy farm and is due out this April.
What’s Different about Write the World Competitions?
- Best Entry: $100 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the winning piece, and an interview with the author will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
- Runner up: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the piece will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
- Best Peer Review: $50 (Our guest judge’s commentary on the best peer review and an interview with the reviewer will be featured on Write the World’s blog)
- Prizes: The winning entrant will receive $100, and the runner-up and 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, January 9, and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.
Is previously published work eligible?
- January 2: Competition Opens
- January 9: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 50 drafts submitted.)
- January 13: Reviews returned to Writers
- January 17: Final Submissions Due
- February 3: Winners Announced
Our monthly competitions are designed to get you writing across a range of genres throughout the year, so we encourage you to write a new work for each competition, but we will also accept work that has been previously shared with a small, local audience (for instance, a piece that was published in a school journal).
How to Enter
- If you haven’t yet, sign up for a free account for Write the World as a young writer here.
- Hit the “Start Writing” button at the top of the dashboard.
- Draft your entry! Hit “Save” to return to it later.
- The first 50 people to submit a draft will receive an in-depth review from one of our Expert Reviewers—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals—that you can use to revise your final entry. The “Submit for Expert Review” button will be clickable if slots are still available—click it to have your draft reviewed. (Note: you can still enter the competition if you haven’t received or don’t want to receive an Expert Review!)
- When you are ready to submit your entry, hit the "Submit as Final" button (You can revise, re-publish, and mark any version as your "final submission" until the deadline.)
- Only one entry per person, please.
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All final submissions will automatically be published on Write the World’s website.
We won’t be holding a competition in February—stay tuned for more information about our planned transition to a new and improved Write the World site, coming next month! Our Opinion Writing Competition
will open on Monday, March 6.
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