New York, NY (September 8, 2020)— The Academy of American Poets is pleased to announce that renowned illustrator Maira Kalman and New York Times-bestselling YA author and poet Renée Watson will judge the 2021 National Poetry Month Poster Competition for Students. The student’s winning artwork will be featured on the official National Poetry Month poster in 2021, which marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of this literary celebration—now the largest in the world. The Academy will distribute 100,000+ free copies of the poster to teachers, families, schools, libraries, and classrooms nationwide in time for the April anniversary celebration. The winning student will receive $1,000 in cash and prizes and be featured in American Poets magazine and on, which reaches millions of readers each year. The judges will also select a runner-up to receive Honorable Mention. 

Last year’s winner was tenth grader Samantha Aikman from Mount Mansfield Union High School in Richmond, Vermont, whose artwork was selected by former U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera and award-winning cartoonist Alison Bechdel from among ten outstanding finalists and 180 student submissions. Aikman’s artwork incorporates lines from “Remember” by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. 

Submissions to the 2021 competition are now being accepted online, from September 9 through October 30, 2020, and the winner will be announced in January 2021. Students living in the United States, U.S. Territories, or Tribal Nations and in grades 9 through 12 during the 2020–2021 academic year are eligible to submit. 

For more information about the competition, including the full guidelines, visit:

To submit to the competition, visit:

About Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman is the author/illustrator of over 30 books for adults and children. She has contributed many pieces to The New York Times and The New Yorker. She lives in New York City.

About Renée Watson

Renée Watson is a New York Times-bestselling author, educator, and activist. Her young adult novel, Piecing Me Together (Bloomsbury, 2017) received a Coretta Scott King Award and Newbery Honor. Her poetry and fiction often centers around the experiences of black girls and women, and explores themes of home, identity, and the intersections of race, class, and gender. Renée served as Founder and Executive Director of the I, Too, Arts Collective, a nonprofit committed to nurturing underrepresented voices in the creative arts, from 2016–2019. Renée grew up in Portland, Oregon, and splits her time between Portland and New York City.

About National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month was launched by the Academy of American Poets in 1996 and takes place each April. Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, community centers, and poets honoring poetry's vital place in our culture. The special month of programs is made possible by more than seventy poetry partners and sponsors, as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. Resources for celebrating the month, which includes Poem in Your Pocket Day and the Dear Poet Project, can be found at, the official information hub for the occasion.   

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 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; administers the American Poets Prizes; 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 our culture. Through its prize program, the organization annually awards more funds to individual poets than any other organization, giving a total of $1,250,000 to more than 200 poets at various stages of their careers. This year, in response to the global health crisis, the Academy 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. In another similar effort, the Academy, along with two other literary arts organizations—the Council of Literary Magazines & Presses and the National Book Foundation—established the Literary Arts Emergency Fund, which will grant emergency relief funding to magazines, presses, and literary arts organizations across the U.S. that have experienced financial losses as a result of the pandemic.