New York, NY (November 12, 2020)— The Academy of American Poets, the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry, is pleased to announce the Inaugural Poem Project and Contest for Students. Only five poets in American history have been commissioned by Presidents Elect to pen poems to be shared at their Inaugurations. These poems have uplifted millions of viewers of these historic events as they’ve conveyed the country’s challenges, strengths, and hope for its future. 

The Academy invites students to study these poets and poems and to try their hand at writing their own Inaugural poems as part of the Inaugural Poem Project, and to submit them to the 2021 Inaugural Poem Contest. For additional resources to assist with the project, visit the lesson plan: and the assignment:

Three students’ poems will be selected by Presidential Inaugural Poet and Academy Education Ambassador Richard Blanco. The winning poems will be featured on and in American Poets magazine. The first place-winning student will receive $500. The second place-winning student will receive $300; third place will receive $150. Submissions will be accepted online between November 30 and December 30, 2020. 

Before submitting poems for consideration, students must make sure that they are 1) eligible and 2) able to adhere to all of the guidelines below.


Only students living in the United States, U.S. Territories, or Tribal Nations who are 18 years old or under are eligible. This includes homeschooled students.

Each submission must be an original poem by one student. Poems created in collaboration are not eligible.


Submitted poems can be any length. 

In the spirit of past inaugural poems, the poem must reflect on the country’s challenges, strengths, and hope for its future. 


Technical skill: the poem must display skill with the use of language.

Creativity: the poem must be original in its expression of a personal vision or voice. It must be the student's own work and cannot be plagiarized or in violation of any copyright. We follow the Copyright and Plagiarism Guidelines of the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers


The competition submission period opens November 30, 2020, and closes December 30, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. EST. 

Students must create a free Submittable account using their email address in order to submit if they don't already have one. 

Students must submit their poem for consideration via Submittable. 

The poem must be submitted as a Word document or PDF.

Students must provide a teacher's or guardian's name and email address on the submission form.

Only one submission per student is allowed. 

There is no entry fee.

Finalists will be selected by the Academy of American Poets by January 15, 2021.

Entrants will be required to confirm as part of the application that their poem is original. 

Winning students will be notified by the Academy of American Poets and announced in January 2021 and will be provided a form to be signed by a teacher or guardian confirming the originality of their work.


The Academy of American Poets assumes no responsibility for submissions not received due to user error. Students may verify that the Academy of American Poets has received their submission by logging into Submittable.  

The Academy of American Poets cannot consider revisions to the poem after it is submitted.  

The decisions of the Academy of American Poets as to eligibility are final.

The Academy of American Poets reserves the right not to name a winner. 

All correspondence concerning the Inaugural Poem Competition should be addressed to the Academy of American Poets at [email protected]

The Academy of American Poets expresses gratitude to teacher Seth MacLowry for sharing this project with the organization. 

About the Academy of American Poets

The Academy of American Poets is the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry with supporters in all fifty states. Founded in 1934, the organization annually awards more funds to individual poets than any other organization through its prize program, giving a total of $1,250,000 to more than 200 poets at various stages of their careers. The Academy also produces, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; originated and organizes National Poetry Month; publishes the popular Poem-a-Day series and American Poets magazine; provides award-winning resources to K–12 educators, including the Teach This Poem series; hosts an annual series of poetry readings and special events; and coordinates a national Poetry Coalition working together to promote the value poets bring to the country’s culture. This year, in response to the global health crisis, the organization joined six other national organizations to launch Artist Relief, a multidisciplinary coalition of arts grantmakers and a consortium of foundations working to provide resources and funding to the country’s individual poets, writers, and artists who are impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.