Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards 2021

We are now accepting submissions for the fifth annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards (GBYPA)! The deadline is May 31, 2021.

Here are the basics on this year’s contest:

  • 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).
  • 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 May 30, 2020 – May 30, 2021, since poems are judged based on grade level.
  • All entries must be the original work of the young person submitting the poem.
  • Youth 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, 2021.
  • Due to the current public health crisis, this year’s winners will be honored at a virtual Awards Ceremony to take place on August 21, 2021. More details to come!

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.