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Submit your entry today.

Illinois Humanities is pleased to join the many groups working with Our Miss Brooks 100 and the Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago to honor the legacy of Gwendolyn Brooks on the centennial of her birth.

We are helping to revive the statewide youth poetry awards that Ms. Brooks herself led for about 30 years – now headed up by Quraysh Ali Lansana, Amina Dickerson, Nora Brooks Blakely (Gwendolyn’s daughter), and others.

The Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards are for K-12 students in schools (public, private, home) throughout the state of Illinois. Students can enter on their own or have a parent or teacher submit their entry. All entries must be the original work of the student. We want to hear your words!

You can write on any subject. You heard that right!

The deadline is midnight on June 22, 2017 . Winners will be notified by July 28, 2017. The limits on poem length are as follows:

  • For grades Kindergarten through 5: Maximum 16 lines
  • For grades 6-12: Maximum 50 lines
  • Blank lines between stanzas are not counted.
  • There is a limit of 1 submission per person.

If, due to the personal nature of your piece or because you attend a detention center or adolescent treatment facility, you don’t want your name published, please check the anonymous box when submitting your work. We will respect your request and not publish your name in print or online, but we must still have accurate name and address information for every submission.

Prizes include gift certificates, books and public acknowledgement. The judges are respected poets themselves, and they include Nora Brooks Blakely, Kristiana Rae Colon, Tyehimba Jess, C. Russell Price and Kevin Stein.

Click here for the Entry Form in order to submit your poem

Yes, this is a ‘contest’ and, yes, there are prizes, but what we really cherish is poetry. We honor each and every one of you who take the time to submit your work!

Note: There will be 1 award each for grades K-5, and 2 awards each for grades 6-12.