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Poetry Contest 2014 Guidelines

Entry Form

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Submission Dates: April 1st through June 1st 2014.

Entries must be post marked by June 1st. We receive a high volume of entries around this date, so if you submit a poem toward the end of the submission period, please be patient. We will notify you via email when we process your entry!


For homeschooled* students ages 7–19, write a poem based on the theme prompts below, corresponding to your age category. Each student may submit 3 different poems (see Multiple Entries section below).

* For the purposes of this contest, an eligible student must have received a majority of his or her education in the past year through home education. The staff and immediate family members of HSLDA and all related entities (PRO, HSF, GenJ) are not eligible to participate in contests sponsored by HSLDA or any of the related entities.


Cash congratulations, plus a wonderful transcript booster! Winners will be announced in July.

Category 1
(ages 7–10)
(ages 11–14)
(ages 15–19)
First place $100 $150 $200
Second place $75 $100 $150
Third place $50 $50 $100
Honorable Mentions (2) $25 $25 $50

Format and Submissions:

  • Poems must be entirely the work of the student entering the contest. No assistance of other parties, including but not limited to editing or proof reading, is permissible.
  • Length:
    • Category 1: 2–6 stanzas, 4 lines per stanza OR sonnet (14 lines)
    • Category 2: 4–8 stanzas, 4 lines per stanza OR sonnet (14 lines)
    • Category 3: 4–10 stanzas, 4 lines per stanza OR sonnet (14 lines)
  • Rhyme scheme should be one of the following: ABAB, AABB, or ABBA
  • The poems should be typed in at least 10 point font and single-spaced, with a double space between stanzas. Parents may type poems for young students who have not yet learned to type.
  • Please title each poem.
  • Only one poem per page.
  • The student’s phone number should appear at the top of each page. NO OTHER from of identification should appear on these pages, to ensure the judging is anonymous.
  • Each poem must be accompanied by a completed Entry Form and Entry Fee.
  • Mail two copies of each poem.

Multiple Entries:

Each student may enter up to 3 poems. Each poem requires a separate Entry Fee and Entry Form. Multiple entries may be mailed in the same envelop (two copies of each poem, please) and the multiple entry fees may be included on one check.

Mail poems (2 copies of each), Entry Forms, and Entry Fees to:

Attn: Poetry Contest
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, VA 20134-9000

Entries must be postmarked on or before June 1st, 2014.

Entry Fee:

1. Regular Entry Fee$15.00 per poem
2. HSLDA Member Discounted Entry Fee$10.00 per poem

Please pay via check or money order. These should be made payable to “HSLDA” with a note of “Poetry Contest” in the memo line. Please do not enclose cash.


This year, we are exploring the special relationship between poetry and music. We are looking at Saint-Saen’s famous Carnival of the Animals as well as other favorite classics and want to know where these creative musical pieces take you!

Category 1: Ages 7 to 10 as of May 1, 2014
Write a poem based on one of the following:

Category 2: Ages 11 to 14 as of May 1, 2014
Write a poem based on one of the following:

  • Fossils” movement from Carnival of the Animals
  • Aviary” movement from Carnival of the Animals
  • Rodeo by Aaron Copland

Category 3: Homeschoolers* ages 15 to 19 as of May 1, 2014
Write a poem based on one of the following:

How do I write poetry from music?

Pen and paper in hand, start by listening to the songs that interest you from your category—you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you recognize certain parts of them! As you listen, write down any words, emotions, images, landscapes, or memories that come to mind. Once you have decided which song you like best, listen to it a couple more times, always jotting down anything you imagine in response to the music. Look at the words you wrote and use these as the jumping off point for your poem.

Good questions to capture your thoughts in words: (Remember, there are NO wrong answers! So just have fun!)

  • How did you feel listening to different parts of the song? Excited? Confused? Carefree? Nostalgic? Be as specific or general as you would like.
  • If this song were playing along to a movie, what would be happening in the movie right now?
  • If the song is supposed to describe something (such as an animal), what do you think the animal would be doing during this part of the song?
  • Is there a color, person, character, pet, object, landscape, time period, activity, or adventure that you associate with how you feel right now?

Frustrated? Here’s the answer!

Creativity can be frustrating for some people because there is no right or wrong answer. The trick is understanding your goal, which is to be honest and original. We want to know what you think, not a repackaging of someone else’s clichés. If you accomplish this, you will be on your way to creating a high-quality poem.

“I chose the movement ‘The Elephant’. Does my poem need to be about an elephant?”

No! That’s the beautiful freedom of poetry. Each song is interpreting its title; your poem should be an interpretation of a section of the song, but not necessarily of the song’s title. So if you listen to “The Elephant” movement and have vivid memories of romping through a fort in your basement with your siblings, write about that memory. Be creative and let the music take you on an adventure!


  • Poems will be evaluated by a panel of judges appointed by HSLDA.
  • Poems will be judged on originality of thought, writing style, and adherence to both the theme and the traditional requirements of the form.
  • The decision of the judges is final.
  • Results of the contest will be released in July 2014.

Other Information:

  • By submitting a poem you:
    • grant Home School Legal Defense Association the right to publish all or part of your submission.
    • agree to all rules and the decisions of the judges and sponsors.
  • Home School Legal Defense Association is not responsible for any lost, damaged, misdirected, delayed, mutilated, incomplete, illegible, or postage-due entries or mail.
  • All profits from this contest will go to the Home School Foundation’s Special Needs Children Fund.

Please contact the Contest Coordinator at contests@hslda.org with any questions