The Academy of American Poets, the nation’s leading champion of poets and poetry, is pleased to offer the Inaugural Poem Project and Contest for Students. Only six 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 invited 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: or the assignment:

Three students’ poems were selected by Academy Education Ambassador and Presidential Inaugural Poet Richard Blanco. The winning poems are featured on and forthcoming in American Poets magazine. The first place-winning student will receive $1,000. The second place-winning student will receive $600; third place will receive $300. Submissions were accepted from November 30, 2020 to December 30, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. EST. Submissions are now closed.


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. 



  • 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. 

Read the winning students' poems.