Aspiring Iowa poets of all ages are given the opportunity for publication and nearly $500 in cash prizes during January and February of the new year. The Iowa Poetry Association offers an annual contest for grade school, high school and college students, as well as several categories for adult writers, with no entry fee and no obligation for membership in the organization or purchase of books.
Anyone with an Iowa residence, and students from Iowa families attending school outside the state are eligible to submit up to five poems of not more than twenty lines each before the February 28 deadline. Name and address should be placed in the upper right corner of each poem sheet and should appear nowhere else on the page. Except for school poems, which are not returned, a stamped, self-addressed envelope should be included for the return of unused entries when judging is completed in mid-summer.
Complete rules are available on the website iowapoetry.com or by sending SASE to Editor Lucille Morgan Wilson, 2325 61st Street, Des Moines, IA, 50322. Sonnets, haiku, national/world events, humorous verse (limited to eight lines, rhymed and metered), and poems FOR children are welcomed, as well as other traditional forms and free verse. College student poems are to be sent to Rustin Larson, 105 North D, Fairfield, IA, 52556; High School to Joy Lyle, 17844 33th St., Keota, IA, 52248; and Grade School to Eileen Coursey, 2222 Central Avenue, Dubuque, IA, 52001.
Some poems by 6th - 12th graders will be selected to go on to a later national competiton. A 12th grader from Valley High School, West Des Moines, received an Honorable Mention last year.
The Iowa Poetry Association is affiliated with the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Inc. Undergraduate students in any accredited college or university have an additional opportunity, which offers two $500 cash prizes and 75 copies of their published manuscript, plus a stipend to attend the national convention to be held next June in Albuquerque, NM. Deadlind is February 14 and it is necessary to have complete rules and a notarized application form. Both are obtainable from the NFSPS website. In 2010, Jason Bradford, Coe College student, won one of the awards. Teniesha Kessler, from Castana, Iowa, a student at the University of South Dakots, received one of the two awards in 2011.