Thirty-First Annual Student Poetry Contest
Write a poem using Whitman’s theme
I DREAM’D IN A DREAM
I dream’d in a dream I saw a city invincible to the attacks of the whole of the rest of the earth,
I dream’d that was the new city of Friends,
Nothing was greater there than the quality of robust love, it led the rest,
It was seen every hour in the actions of the men of that city,
And in all their looks and words.
-Walt Whitman (1860, 1867)
We are all dreamers. Some dreams come to us unbidden. Others we make for ourselves. Poets are often called dreamers. Poets create ideas woven into words to evoke a response in the listener. In this poem, Walt’s dream tells of a peaceful place without war or trouble. His dream is about hope.
Be a poet dreamer. Write a poem that may entertain or enlighten, warm or mourn, a poem that reaches the listener. As poet you direct the listener’s thoughts, just for a moment, to see what you see, and then to go beyond that to other ideas. A poem has power.
Try not to see this as an assignment. This is an opportunity to give your point of view in your own way. Every poet has their own individual style. Seek your own voice. Strive to be unique. This poem must be your own creation, built with free verse. Use Whitman’s technique of detailed descriptions and use of the senses to compose your poem. Include some or all of your senses: see, smell, taste, touch, hear. Remember to use images, similes and metaphors to show us your ideas. Your poem should employ a longer line, like those of Whitman. Search for unusual words and craft them into poetics of sounds, repeating letters for alliteration and vowels for assonance. Try to avoid end rhymes, although slant or internal rhymes may be used.
What do you dream about?
THE WALT WHITMAN BIRTHPLACE ASSOCIATION IS PROUD TO PRESENT ITS THIRTY-FIRST ANNUAL STUDENT POETRY CONTEST
The Walt Whitman Birthplace Association maintains and operates the Walt Whitman Birthplace, home of America’s great poet. All contestants and poetry lovers are encouraged to visit the Birthplace. School groups may participate in a variety of unique educational programs.
THEME: DREAMS ELIGIBILITY: Students in grades 3-12
Category A – Individual poem, grades 3-4
Category B – Individual poem, grades 5-6
Category C – Individual poem, grades 7-8
Category D – Individual poem, grades 9-10
Category E – Individual poem, grades 11-12
Category F – Individual anthology
Category G – Class anthology, grades 3-4
Category H – Class anthology, grades 5-6
Category I – Class anthology, grades 7-8
Category J – Class anthology, grades 9-10
Category K – Class anthology, grades 11-12
Category L – Multi-media
- Print or type a poem of up to 30 lines or less. (Multi-lingual poems welcome, with English translation.)
- Individual poems MUST have the following information on EACH page or poems will be disqualified:
- poem title and entrance category
- entrant’s name, complete address, home phone number, age and grade level
- school name, complete address, school phone number, and teacher’s name
- for multiple entries by a teacher: poems must be noted by grade AND class period
- Class anthology MUST have the following information or anthologies will be disqualified:
- anthology title
- title sheet with the entrance category, teacher’s name, grade, school name, school phone number and complete address
- the student’s name on each poem; student may enter a poem in an anthology and as an individual poem
- all poems should be in binder or book form
- for multiple entries by a teacher: anthologies must be noted by grade AND class period
Entries must be postmarked by MARCH 17, 2017
- Winners notified by mail in mid-May.
- Awards distributed on Sunday, June 4, 2017, from 12:00 noon – 2:00 PM, at the annual Walt Whitman Birthday Celebration held at the Walt Whitman Birthplace. This is Walt’s 198th
- Grand Champion and multiple prize winners awarded in each category.
- Grand Champion poems will be posted on the WWBA website and their names will be made available to the media.
- Individual entries will NOT be returned.
- To obtain a list of winners, send self-addressed business envelope with two first class stamps.
- Awards held for pickup at the Walt Whitman Birthplace until July 14, 2017. They will not be mailed.
- Winning and non-winning anthologies will be held for pickup until July 14, 2017. They will not be mailed.
All submissions become the property of the Walt Whitman Birthplace and may be published online or in print.
The poems are judged by a panel of published poets selected by the Birthplace Trustees.
Walt Whitman Birthplace Association
246 Old Walt Whitman Road
Huntington Station, NY 11746-4148
Attn: POETRY CONTEST