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Please contact the Contest Coordinator at contests@hslda.org with any questions. We love your feedback!

Now Accepting Submissions!
March 1st — May 1st


Let’s see how clever you can get! For this year’s poetry contest, enjoy the complexity of the English language and mechanics of poetic literature. Do this by telling a story or expressing a message through a poem you create with a specific alphabetic structure (category details below), all the while maintaining your special voice.

Category 1 (Ages 7-10 as of April 1st)

Write a poem in which every new line begins with the exact same letter. You may choose the letter.

Maximum poem length: 20 lines.
Rhyme pattern: Poem should have a discernable rhyme scheme.

Category 2 (Ages 11-14 as of April 1st)

Write a three-stanza poem in which the first letter of each new line spells the message “SPRING IS HERE” or spells “SPRING” as three couplets

Maximum poem length: 6 (“SPRING”) or 12 (“SPRING IS HERE”) lines.
Rhyme pattern: Poem should have a discernable rhyme scheme.

Category 3 (Ages 15-19 as of April 1st)

Write a poem in which each new line begins with consecutive letters of the alphabet. You may choose which letter you start the sequence with.

Maximum poem length: 26 lines.
Rhyme pattern: Poem should have a discernable rhyme scheme.

See Rules & Guidelines for important instructions!

CATEGORY 1 (ages 7-10)

Write a rhyming poem that exemplifies how Romantic poetry often celebrates nature.

First Place Winner

Mia Arcedera

If I Had a Day

If I had a day I'd laugh and play,
I'd skip through the meadows at noon,
I would stand on the clouds, and hold up the sun,
Lest evening break too soon.

If I had a day I would sail away,
To explore an unknown land.
I'd climb the mast, and look out for sharks,
And then rest awhile on white sand.

If I had a day I might lie in the hay,
I'd make it as soft as my pillow.
I would say to my friends and my foes alike,
"Today I'm so happy and mellow!"

If I had a day I'd spend it this way,
Forgiving all grudges and glowers.
And that is what really I'd do,
If l'd only my 24 hours!

Second Place Winner

Kaeb Coughlin

Slowly Shaping Sticks

I hunt for a spot of buttery sun
To craft a partner for my gun

Wind rustles conifer trees
The weight of wood upon on my knees

My back and hand dampen with sweat
As silver knife and brown wood met

Shiny blade knicks
Whittling various sticks

Red wood handle rests in palm
Now cool shade keeps me calm

I don't have a care as I munch on my pear
As the smell of the pine floats through the air

Armed with my kingly wooden sword
Never shall my life be bored!

Third Place Winner

Elijah Ruehle

Animals I Would Like to See

If I had all the time in the world to play,
this is what I would do today . . .
I would like to see orcas swimming and diving,
And a king cobra slithering and sliding.
I would like to see wolves with their sharp shiny claws
And a big lion with its giant gold paws.
I would like to see sharks so big and so gray,
with their long tails swaying away.
I would like to see pandas eating bamboo,
And a white fluffy owl saying who-who.
That is what I would do in a day,
If I had all the time to play.

Honorable Mention

Makenzie Baker

A Gymnast's Dream

A dream come true;
A whole day off with nothing to do!
Every hour can be spent in the gym,
Tenaciously stretching every limb.

I will flip, I will fly,
Courageously reaching for the sky.
Calculated in every movement,
It requires diligence to see improvement.

I run, tuck, and stick it strong,
Energetically moving along.
Balanced and confident on the beam,
Gymnastics builds my self-esteem.

It takes teamwork, friendship, and pointed toes
If we are going to beat our fellow foes.
And let me not forget to pray
And thank God for my talent each day.

Honorable Mention

Rebekkah Baker

A Day in God's Painting

It is me and my horse
On a full day's adventure
Through nature's obstacle course.

We'll climb to the highest mountain,
Pass dancing, yellow wildflowers,
And find a flowing fountain.

We'll stroll beside the bubbling riverside;
Take a long drink and stretch our weary legs,
And thank God for the charming ride.

When the golden sun lowers in the painted sky,
Well make our way back to camp,
And to the woods, Ill wave goodbye.


  • Until the Night Unfurls by Lily Phillips
  • More Time in the World by Nathan Kowalczyk
  • The Things I Would Do by Cali Kinney
  • If the Clock Stopped by LilaBeau Davis
  • All the Wonders of the World by Elena Kole
  • Give Me All The Time by Jordan Ashton
  • A Play-sure-able Day by Gabriel Fellman
  • In the Morning by Mia Arcedera
  • All The Time in the World by Leah Hanna
  • Not Enough Time by Ashlyn Derr
  • Hiking by Jesse Dowdy

CATEGORY 2 (ages 11-14)

Write a poem that exemplifies how Medieval poetry often tells a story in heroic couplets.

First Place Winner

Grace Hopper

The Blackbirds' Revenge

When we heard them sing of sixpence and of pockets full of rye,
We four-and-twenty blackbirds in a panic tried to fly!
With all our calls and pleadings we could not our freedom buy—
They say revenge is sweet, and what is sweeter than a pie?

For since last June we'd plundered every pie upon the sill—
If you put pie by the window, the birds will eat their fill!
The cook, a woman strong of arm and stronger still of will
Detested us pie-thieving birds, clever and black of quill!

She cooked a dreadful scheme and said, "To all those who will catch
Some of those thieving blackbirds live, why, that person shall fetch
For every bird a sixpence. (Then their stealing they'll regret!)
And then into a pie I'll put each midnight-feathered wretch!"

Thus trapped inside the pastry we could see no light of day,
'Twas uncomfortable and crowded in each and every way.
But blackbirds are quite clever, as most anyone will say—
We took this as a chance to all our brilliancy display.

So then the pie, with birds and all, before the king was placed,
With a triumphant song we pecked the dough which birds encased.
The piecrust was delicious and as light and fine as lace
We burst out in a twinkling in the shocked old monarch's face!

They regretted singing sixpence and of pockets full of rye
When four-and-twenty blackbirds at their faces all did fly!
They say—but I say sweet revenge is piecrust full of lies—
They say revenge is sweet, and what is sweeter than a pie?

Second Place Winner

Niamh Morrison

Picked for Poison

A snow-white maiden, tricked to eat
A poisoned apple, seeming sweet
So pleasing for the eye to see
Because the witch had poisoned me.

If you're an apple, you may learn
That every apple has a turn
To gently grow away from rue
Unless the witch has poisoned you.

Most tragically picked and sadly brought
To a bubbling broth in a blackened pot
Drenched in a steaming, boiling sea
Twas there the witch did poison me.

Malice rose in the depths of my core
I did not know what I had in store
I screamed and steamed in agony
Because the witch had poisoned me.

The famous maiden took a small bite
She fell (while I rolled out of sight).
Kissed by a prince, eventually
Because the witch had poisoned me.

So all you who have read the story
Don't give Snow White all the glory
I suffered more, as you can see
Because the witch had poisoned me.

Third Place Winner

Rosemary Bragg

The Wonderful Wooden Nose

I fondly remember my very first scent:
The aroma of freshly carved pine.
The finishing touches were being put on
This Marionette face of mine.

The excitement of being a nose made me hold
My noble position with pride,
But a normal existence was not to be mine-
Not after the day . . . he lied.

The stretching! The pain! I could hardly endure!
With every new rie it grew worse!
O woe unto me! O what could it be
That brought me this horrible curse?

Geppetto, Blue Fairy, and Jimmy Cricket,
Appalled by his atrocious tricks,
Hopefully pleaded and punished and cried,
But I feared it could never be fixed.

Until the day he made his daring escape
From the "wonderful" Land of the Toys.
He saved poor Geppetto from Terrible Shark,
Which distinguished him from other boys.

We all finally realized the courage he had.
Blue Fairy made him a real boy.
And now every time he gets a runny nose,
It's really just my tears of joy.

Honorable Mention

Lily Tu

Narrative from the Perspective of an Insulted Shoe

We've all of us heard about old Cinderella, but has anyone heard of her shoe?
Though most of the story is sort of a myth, I will tell you the parts that were true:

I was made in a workshop (that's me, I'm the shoe) by a good pair of two useful elves,
They helped out the shoemakers, so 've been told: I was placed in a box on the shelves.

Fairy godmother bought me cause I was on sale, with a Bibbity Bobbity Boo!
(No copyright needed), and ol' Cinders gasped when she saw the magnificent shoe.

Do you know whom it was who danced at the ball? Who avoided The Prince's large feet?
She didn't know dancing, not one tiny bit, but with me, no one else could compete.

But when midnight struck, my word, what a scandal, she dumped me, her wonderful shoe!
While she ran down the stairs with my lucky twin on, I was left there, but what could I do?

How I pinched all the feet of the loveliest girls, when anyone dared try me on!
'Till we came at the last to poor Cinderella, who didn't much care I had gone!

I completed the happily love ever after, it was all because I came along,
I was the reason the both of them wed, and all other versions are WRONG!!

Honorable Mention

Ian Deckman

Puck's Play

Through hazelnut skies I fly in disguise
To do Oberon's bidding.
The light slowly dies so hasten my surprise
To make mischief most fitting.

Four lovers running, my plan so cunning,
To confuse their strong passion.
Their senses stunning, I'll practice funning
After Puck-ish fashion!

With potion I glaze their eyes a daze
The lovers I will confuse!
Back through the maze my trail I blaze
Next, Queen Titania I bemuse.

Titania's a tease who refuses to please
King Oberon with her changeling child.
On eyelid's crease the juice makes her cease
To see things as they are styled.

Now hasten the pace to my next case:
To Bottom the actor I'm running!
He will I grace with a donkey for a face;
I roll with the laughter of funning.

I alter Bottom's head; with grass now he is fed
And ears like that of a donkey!
To Titania he's led; a new romance is fed!
This tale becomes more wonky!

Lovers confused, Titania bemused,
My work here I think is done.
I'm quite amused but the King has refused
To let things remain this fun.

So back I fly through forest so high
To undo my mischief so quick.
Lovers now sigh, Titania draws nigh.
Too bad my tricks didn't stick!


  • The Three Little Pigs Go to the Hardware Store by Katie Ross
  • If Tolls Aren't Paid, Nothing is Made.. A Villain Vindicated by Isobel Horowitz
  • The Tale of Humpty-Dumpty by Sarah O. Standage
  • We the Sheep and Our "Tail" by M. Elise Amy
  • Freedom By Tea In The Sea by Rebekah McLaughlin
  • The Spoon, To the Glass by Tabitha Meyer
  • Little Bo's Sheep by Melissa Hillman
  • Behind Other Eyes by Simon Milligan
  • What the Schoolhouse Saw by Tabitha Meyer
  • A Giant Reflection by Audrey Rathgeb
  • Jack's Giant Jump by Hayden Michael Montgomery Bates

CATEGORY 3 (ages 15-19)

Write a rhyming poem that exemplifies how Neoclassical poetry often instructs about reason and common sense.

First Place Winner

Abigail Lyman


blue river delta
a webbing of veins laces
the back of her hand

dark synapse of storm
incandescent roots fissure
sky, stitch cloud to ground

Second Place Winner

Kendall Henson


Bumblebees tumble
Rapturous, drunk on nectar
From poppy to rose

Giddy, exultant
Dizzily somersaulting
Bobbing in blossoms

Now sated return
Dipping through fragranced air to
Spin their liquid gold

Third Place Winner

Emma Palmer


Heat waves seethe on high—
There the frowning thunderhead
Broods before it breaks.

The bursting of rain
Rages on rooftops—then, spent,
Drains into calm pools.

A cool breeze blows in
Like the sharp shuddering breaths
That come after tears.

Honorable Mention

Lily Corley

Second Moon

They say earth has one—
Here, with this mirror, are two:
In sky, yet in sea.

Regal, gold moonlight,
Through night gloriously glows;
A wet, rippled orb.

On First Moon, man lands—
The second cannot be owned.
Reflections shine free.

Honorable Mention

Josephine Haab


Sweating sun rolls down
Sky awaits the moon, blushing
In ribbon of rose

Paint strokes drain away
Sky slips on gown of sapphire
Embroidered with stars

Moon in penciled branch
Aspen peeps through veil of dusk
Moon glows, singing soft


  • (Untitled) by Abigail Lyman
  • Dawn by Alexander Teets
  • Hope by Chloe Little
  • Afternoon Silence by Natalie McDaniel
  • Claire de Lune by Rhonda Grakov
  • Illumination by Elizabeth King
  • After Tenebrae by Sophie Monastra
  • Echoes of Thunder by Ashley Racicot
  • Rolling River by Joyce Hong
  • Feline of Frost by Rachel Evans
  • Colorscape by Emma Shutt