The Academy of American Poets, the originator and organizer of National Poetry Month, invites students living in the United States, U.S. Territories, or Tribal Nations who are in grades 9 through 12 to enter artwork to be considered for the National Poetry Month poster in 2021, the twenty-fifth anniversary of this literary celebration, now the largest in the world. The winner will be selected by judges Maira Kalman, renowned illustrator, and Renée Watson, New York Times-bestselling YA author and poet. The winning student’s artwork will be printed on 100,000+ copies of the official April 2021 poster, which will be distributed for free to teachers, families, schools, libraries, and classrooms nationwide, and viewed by millions of people during next year’s annual celebration. The winning student will be featured on Poets.org and in American Poets, and will receive $1,000 in cash and prizes. The runner-up will receive $250. 

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. 

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

ELIGIBILITY:

  • Only students living in the United States, U.S. Territories, or Tribal Nations who are 18 years of age and younger and enrolled in grades 9 through 12 during the 2020–2021 academic year are eligible. 

  • Each submission must be original artwork by one student. Artwork created in collaboration is not eligible.

ARTWORK GUIDELINES:

  • Submitted artwork must incorporate at least one and no more than four lines from the poem "For Keeps" by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo. All spelling and punctuation must be preserved. 

    • Please note: the artwork should not include the words "National Poetry Month" as that text will be added by the Academy later.  

  • The artwork must reflect a celebration of the art form of poetry for National Poetry Month. Learn more about National Poetry Month.

  • The artwork must be 18.25" x 21.25" (PDF or JPEG). The most important elements of the artwork must not extend beyond 17.25" x 17.5" to account for trimming during the poster production process. For reference, see the examples below, which are the posters from 2020 and 2019.

2020 National Poetry Month Poster (landscape/horizontal orientation)

       

2020 National Poetry Month Poster

 

2019 National Poetry Month Poster (portrait/vertical orientation)

                

2019 National Poetry Month Poster

JUDGING CRITERIA:

  • Technical skill: the artwork must display artistic skill in any medium (painting, drawing, photography, digital art, etc.) as long as it is two-dimensional.

  • Creativity: the artwork 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

    • Please note: students who are selected as finalists will be required to submit a form signed by a teacher or guardian stating the artwork is original.

  • Artist's statement: along with the artwork, each student is required to submit a 250-word artist's statement that explains how the artwork responds to or engages with the line(s) of poetry. 

DEADLINES & SUBMISSION REQUIREMENTS:

  • The competition submission period opens September 9, 2020, and closes October 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 artwork for consideration via Submittable. Submit here

  • The artwork must be submitted as a PDF or JPEG.

  • The artist's statement must be submitted as a .doc or .docx file. 

  • For digital art or graphic design submissions, the design must be 300 dpi and RGB color and all fonts must be embedded.

  • 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 November 10, 2020. This date has been changed to November 17, 2020. The Academy of American Poets apologizes for any inconvenience. 

  • Finalists will be required to submit a form via email stating their artwork is original. The Academy of American Poets will provide the form upon notifying the students of their selection. The form must be signed by a teacher or guardian.

  • The winning student will be notified by the Academy of American Poets by November 20, 2020 and announced in January 2021. This date has been changed to December 10, 2020. The Academy of American Poets apologizes for any inconvenience.

  • The winning student must coordinate with the Academy of American Poets to produce the final PDF for printing on the official 2020 National Poetry Month poster by December 10, 2020.  

PLEASE NOTE:

  • 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 artwork 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 poster competition should be addressed to the Academy of American Poets at [email protected]