Deadline: May 15, 2022

How can poetry be an effective response to current events and underreported stories? How can we use poetry to connect global issues to our local and personal contexts? Students are invited to explore these questions and make their voices heard in their entries to the Fighting Words Poetry Contest 2022.

The Pulitzer Center offers worksheets and resources to support students in crafting their poems, materials for teachers leading their students through the project, and free virtual workshops for participating classes. All materials are available in English and Spanish.


  • 1st place: $300, publication on the Pulitzer Center website
  • 2nd place: $200, publication on the Pulitzer Center website
  • 3rd place: $100, publication on the Pulitzer Center website
  • Finalists: $75, publication on the Pulitzer Center website


  • Any current K-12 student in the United States or internationally may enter.
  • Students may write in any language, and are welcome to submit multilingual poems.
  • Judges will have reading fluency in English and Spanish.

Judging Criteria

Poems will be judged by the following criteria:

1. Success of the poem on its own terms (craft, linguistic style, emotion, etc.)

  • Questions to ask yourself:
    • What response(s) do I want to evoke in my reader? Have I chosen the best words to evoke this response?
    • Have I used poetic devices (e.g. repetition, imagery, metaphor), or chosen not to use them, to achieve a specific effect?

2. Successful inclusion of lines quoted from a Pulitzer Center story

  • Questions to ask yourself:
    • Have I chosen lines that add something important to the poem?
    • Are the lines integrated into the poem smoothly, so their presence feels natural?

3. Thoughtful choice of perspective and respectful treatment of subject matter

  • Questions to ask yourself:
    • What is my relationship to the story I have chosen? How can I make a personal connection?
    • Why am I writing from the perspective I have chosen? What other perspectives could I choose, and how would those choices change the poem?
    • If the subjects of the story I have chosen read my poem, how might they feel?


Fill in the form, and then upload the text of your poem as an attachment. You may also attach a video or audio recording of yourself performing the poem; this second file is optional.

Click here to apply

For more information, visit Pulitzer Center Poetry Contest.

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