Pulitzer Center Poetry Contest- 2022

How can poetry be an effective response to current events and under reported 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.

  • Open to all K-12 Students around the world
  • Winners and finalists will be notified via email in June 2022

About the Contest


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.


  • 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


Sunday, May 15, 2022, 11:59pm EST

Entry guidelines:

Go to the Pulitzer Center website and select a story (see the “Suggested Stories” tab above for a curated list). Write a poem of any form and length that includes lines from the story. Include an epigraph in the following format: With lines from “STORY TITLE” by JOURNALIST NAME, a Pulitzer Center reporting project.

Submit Your Poem Here

The form will ask for some basic information, and you will upload your poem to the form as an attachment. You may also upload an audio or video file of yourself performing your poem; this file is optional, but the text file is required.

If you have questions about these guidelines or if the entry form is not accessible to you, please email education@pulitzercenter.org.

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?

Contact: education@pulitzercenter.org

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