Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards 2021

Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions of the fifth annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards (GBYPA)!

This year we received 365 submissions from 75 schools from across Illinois. Thank you to all who’ve submitted for the 2021 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards.

View the list of 2021 winning and honorable mention poems by grade below. You may also download the entire list of winning and honorable mention poems in the 2021 Chapbook.

Watch the 2021 Virtual Awards Ceremony that took place on join us on Saturday, August 21st: 


Kindergarten

1st grade

2nd grade

  • My Home” by Mattalyn Sears, Peoria
  • Poems” by Emma Balcirak, Chicago
  • Honorable Mention: “First Day of School” by Laura Heironymus, Chicago
  • Honorable Mention: “Playing is Fun” by Martyn Vrubliauskas, Chicago

3rd grade

  • Dear Piece of Paper” by Max Steinhandler, Evanston
  • Shortcut” by Elise Brand, Chicago
  • Honorable Mention: “Nature” by Amelia Richards, Berwyn
  • Honorable Mention: “Cookies” by Leo Quest, Berwyn

4th grade

5th grade

6th grade

7th grade

8th grade

9th grade

10th grade

11th grade

12th grade

2021 Sojourner Scholars Mood Tracker Poetry Project

The Sojourner Scholars Mood Tracker Poetry Project was developed during a three week summer seminar exploring the life and legacy of our beloved poet Gwendolyn Brooks, with Second Year Sojourner Scholars, facilitated by award winning poets Nicole Bond and Dr. Tara Betts.

Using the Gwendolyn Brooks epic collection of work Blacks, published by Third World Press, the Scholars embarked on a literary journey to include stops at historical events, visits to Chicago landmarks of the past and present, and introductions to important figures and complex characters. All vividly captured in the poems, The Chicago Defender Sends a Man to Little Rock Fall 1957, The Chicago Picasso, The Wall, Paul Robeson, of De Witt Williams on his way to Lincoln Cemetery, a song in the front yard and many others.

Learn more and read the Scholars’ original poems

A Portrait of Gwendolyn Brooks by Asha Edwards

Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards 2020

Congratulations to all the winners and honorable mentions of the fourth annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards (GBYPA)!

>>Thank you to all who’ve submitted for the 2020 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards.<<


A special shout out to Aanika Pfister for winning 2 years in a row. Congratulations!

Learn more about this talented poet in this interview.


View the list of 2020 winning poems by grade below. There’s also an option to download the entire list.  Learn more about this year’s Awards via the Poetry Foundation’s press release.

Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards 2019

View the list of 2019 winning poems by grade below:

Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards 2018

Below is a listing of the winners and honorable mentions, along with a listing of their poems.

Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards 2017

In 2017 Illinois Humanities partnered with Our Miss Brooks 100 and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts to revitalize the Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards.

Read the 2017 winning poems.

Read the 2017 honorable mentions poems.

View a recap of the 2017 Awards Ceremony.

Learn more about the history of the Gwendolyn Brook Youth Poetry Awards.

The 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry awards was funded in part by The Chicago Community Trust, the Lloyd A. Fry Foundation, and the Poetry Foundation.