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Poetry and Spoken Word Competition 2019

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* The Poetry Competition is now closed. You are welcome to write to the prompt and read other writer's published writing.*

“Poetry lays the foundations for a future of change," wrote Audre Lorde. From Allen Ginsberg inspiring a generation of nonconformity, to young women around the world reciting poetry for “International Day of the Girl,” to spoken word artists calling for change in our streets and schools, poetry has long celebrated the rhythms of language and the right to self-expression, all while sowing the seeds for revolution. 
This month, Write the World is partnering with Mass Poetry to bring your voices to the global stage. So, dear poets, 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 
Robert Pinsky is a poet, essayist, translator, teacher, and speaker. His first two terms as United States Poet Laureate were marked by such visible dynamism—and such national enthusiasm in response—that the Library of Congress appointed him to an unprecedented third term. Throughout his career, Pinsky has been dedicated to identifying and invigorating poetry’s place in the world. He is a professor of English and creative writing in the graduate writing program at Boston University.
“No other living American poet—no other living American, probably—has done so much to put poetry before the public eye.”
—New York Times Sunday Book Review

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. 
  • Best Written Entry: $100 (winning piece + author interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)  
  • Best Performance: $100 (winning piece + author interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)  
  • Runner up, Written Entry: $50  
  • Best Peer Review: $50 (reviewer interview will be featured on Write the World’s website and blog)  
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 8th and get feedback from our team of experts—authors, writing teachers, and educational professionals.      

Key Dates
April 1: Competition Opens 
April 8: Submit draft for Expert Review (Optional. We will review the first 100 drafts submitted.)     
April 12: Reviews returned to Writers 
April 16: Final Submissions Due
April 26: Winners Announced    

Upcoming Competition
Our Earth Day Competition opens April 22nd.
Stay tuned for more details!