Welcome – and thank you for celebrating the power of poetry with Illinois Humanities. The Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards honor the legacy of Illinois’ own Gwendolyn Brooks: renowned poet, author, and the first Black Pulitzer Prize winner. Each and every one of the young poets who take part in this competition are a part of that legacy. Brooks summed up the contest best in a note in 1977: “All the children who entered the contest are winners… They worked hard. They created. And that is what is important.”
This year’s competition is now open! Click the “submit your poem” button below for instructions to submit your poem. Entries must be received by Friday, May 5, 2023 at 11:59 p.m.
Submit Your Poem
- The contest is open to young people currently in kindergarten through 12th grade across the state of Illinois. Participating young people can be affiliated with any school (public, private, home, etc.) or other institution.
- Youth can only submit ONE poem and the poem must be written by only ONE author (sorry, we do not accept jointly or co-written poems for this contest).
- All entries must be the original work of the young person submitting the poem.
- Poems cannot exceed 25 lines for poems submitted by young people in grades K-5 and cannot exceed 50 lines for poems submitted by young people in grades 6-12. Poems containing visual elements are allowed, if all images/visuals are original to the poet.
- Please only submit poems that were written between November 1, 2022 – May 5, 2023, since poems are judged based on grade level.
- Poets can submit their poem on their own or the poem can be submitted by a parent, guardian, or teacher using this form.
- When submitting a poem, please only enter your name on the entry form and do not include your name or identifying information on the poem itself, since the judging is anonymous.
- Contest winners will be notified by August 1, 2023.
- Winning poets will be honored at an awards ceremony in August 2023. More details to come!
Read our Submission FAQ
Illinois Humanities will host a series of workshops for young K-12 poets to hone their craft and creativity. Workshops will take place in Spring 2023 – Check back for more information or sign up for our newsletter to hear about upcoming events.
Resources for Young Poets
Past Winners of the Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards
Download the entire list of winning and honorable mention poems in the 2022 Chapbook.
View the 2022 Winners and Honorable Mentions by Grade:
Download the entire list of winning and honorable mention poems in the 2021 Chapbook.