Poets invited to share messages of hope, inspiration in contest for cash
By LOIS KINDLE
In the spirit of Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem, “The Hill We Climb,” the Firehouse Cultural Center will host a poetry contest Jan. 28 through March 1.
“Words are so powerful, and they convey deep feeling, especially through poetry,” said Beth Stein, programs manager at the Firehouse. “Amanda’s words were both powerful and uniting, an inspiration to us all.”
Middle school, high school and adult poets are encouraged to center their submissions around the theme, “My Hope for 2021.” Any style of poetry will be accepted, but all poems must be under 50 lines.
There is a $5 entry fee per poem to enter the competition, but there are no limits on the number of times participants can enter.
Entries will be judged by Florida poet John Davis Jr., author of Middle Class American Proverb, Hard Inheritance, Growing Moon, Growing Soil: Poems of my Native Land and two other books of poetry.
“What I’d like to see from poems in the Firehouse Poetry Contest are poems of hope,” Davis Jr. said. “They can be rhymed or unrhymed, metrical or free verse, but mostly, I’d like to see inspirational poems. Participants should not seek to copy her style, exactly, but rather her tone of optimism regarding the future.”
To keep the judging random, entrants are asked to submit their work as email attachments or in the body of an email to firstname.lastname@example.org without signatures or identifying information and must include a notation of which category – middle school, high school or adult – each entry is for.
Submissions may also be mailed to Beth Stein, 101 First Ave. NE, Ruskin, but they must observe the deadline and follow all contest rules.
Winners in each category will be announced during National Poetry Month in April and receive $50, plus an award certificate. They’ll be asked to come by the Firehouse to collect their prize and have their photo taken.
Davis plans to publicize the winners on his online writers’ group.
Entry fees will be accepted through PayPal on the Firehouse Cultural Center website, www.firehouseculturalcenter.org or by calling 813-645-7651.
Poems arriving after deadline or those not observing the contest rules will be disqualified.
John Davis Jr. has a master’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Tampa and teaches English and literature for Keiser University. He has been nominated multiple times for the Pushcart Prize, which annually celebrates the best work published by small, independent presses. His works are published in literary journals internationally.