Illinois Humanities is proud to announce the 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards winners. The names of the 19 winning student poets are listed below along with 26 others who are receiving honorable mentions. The selection process — overseen by a committee including Nora Brooks Blakely, Kristiana Rae Colón, Tyehimba Jess, C. Russell Price, and Kevin Stein — was extremely competitive, and many excellent submissions are not being officially honored.
Gwendolyn Brooks summed up the contest best in a note from 1977: “All the children who entered the contest are winners . . . . They worked hard. They created. And that is what is important.” With this spirit in mind, we’d like to thank everyone who submitted a poem. We’d also like to thank all of the teachers, librarians, parents, afterschool mentors, and others who supported and nurtured young writers throughout Illinois: you’re supporting the next generation of poets in Illinois!
Below is a list of winners and honorable mentions, photos from the Gwendolyn Brooks archive at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, and more information on Gwendolyn Brooks and the history of the Awards.
2017 awardees by grade:
More about Gwendolyn Brooks and the awards:
A big thank you to the following organizations who helped make the 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards possible!