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.”
Thank you to all the young poets and writers for your submissions to the 7th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards! We received a record number of entries.
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 during the current school year, 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 in early August.
- Winning poets will be honored at an awards ceremony in late August or early September.
Read our Submission FAQ
Illinois Humanities has partnered with several organizations to host workshops for young K-12 poets to hone their craft and creativity. Sign up for our newsletter to hear about more upcoming events.
Stay tuned for our 2024 poetry workshops.
Resources for Young Poets
2023 Winners of the Gwendolyn Brooks Youth Poetry Awards
Download the 2023 chapbook containing all of the poems listed below..