Welcome

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.

The Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry awards are produced in partnership with Brooks Permissions, the Poetry Foundation, and the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.

Submit Your Poem

Submission guidelines and instructions:

  • 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!

SUBMIT A POEM

Poetry Workshops

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

Below are resources for young poets and educators of young poets.

Past Winners of the Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards

Browse past winners and read their poems in the chapbooks below.

Download the entire list of winning and honorable mention poems in the 2022 Chapbook.


Download the entire list of winning and honorable mention poems in the 2021 Chapbook.


Download a complete copy of the 2020 Winning poems. Download a complete copy of the 2020 Honorable Mention poems.


Download a complete copy of the 2019 Winning poems.  Download a complete copy of the 2019 Honorable Mention poems.


Download the 2018 list of Winning poems. Download the 2018 list of Honorable Mention poems.


Download the list of 2017 winning poems. Download the list of 2017 honorable mentions poems.