Select a category to see a list of related frequently asked questions:

+ Important Dates

+ When does the winning poem need to be submitted?

Schools should end their 7GP Contest on January 19, 2016 and must send in the winning poem no later than January 29, 2016.

+ When will the student receive their prizes?

Students receive their prizes during a live event or by mail the week of May 1, 2016. This is the day (May 1, 1668) the first official poet laureate, John Dryden, died.

+ When will the student, school and public library receive the donated books?

Books will be mailed during the week of May 1, 2016. However, if an area has a local reading event scheduled after May 1, 2016, the books will be mailed later, during the week of the reading event.

+ Why is the competition held in the first half of the school year and not during National Poetry Month in April?

While April is National Poetry Month and is the earliest month for our live events, we encourage months of writing opportunities for students to occur during the first half of the school year, preferably with the advantage of some input from a poetry lesson plan prior to the contest ending in January. After the contest is over and the selection is made in January, it takes time for us to provide feedback to the educator to share with the student to help them with their final draft, curate them for our anthology distributed in April, and to give them time to prepare their film and possibly for their live reading at one of our events.

More than two-thirds of the educators who have participated in our program found that moving their poetry unit to the first half of the school year gave their students more time to write their best work and it had a very positive effect on students enthusiastically learning and improving other forms of their writing throughout the school year.

+ General Questions

+ What's the catch?

As several educators have commented, “This really isn’t too good to be true.” Everything is being donated to your school and winning student. There’s no catch and no disappointment at the end of the process. 7GP thoroughly researched other programs and designed its approach specifically to help schools overcome past participation barriers and negative student outcomes. We simply ask you to follow the integrity of our program and contest to help bring about your school’s writing revolution .

+ What are the prizes?

  • $25 cash prize for every student winner
  • a donated copy of the book will be given to the student
  • a donated copy of the book will be sent to the school
  • a donated copy of the book will be sent to the public library closest to the student or school
  • a donated copy of the book will be given to the school's registered contact
  • poem is posted on the website along with the student's filmed reading of their poem
  • applause heard online

+ When and where is the location of the event?

Based on the participation in your region will determine if we are able to hold an event. St. Louis is the only location we know we will have sufficient school participation and its event will be held during the month of April 2016 at a location to be determined before the contest deadline. Other schools will be informed about location selection by March 15, 2016, once all videos of student readings, as well as the final drafts of all winning poems, signed release forms and photos are received.

There is a possibility we will livestream films of poem readings over the internet in front of a live audience, enabling students and communities to see filmed readings as well as live readings from anywhere in the world where a computer or smartphone could have an internet connection.

+ Administering the Contest

+ May we submit more than one winner?

Only one winner is to be selected per school.

+ Is there another competition after our school selects its winner?

No, the contest ends at the school in order to give every school a 7th grade poet laureate who be celebrated nationwide.

+ Contest Criteria

+ May I require my students to write poems with a minimum length?

The contest requires that students be given the chance to write poems of any length. With practice, most of the winning poems written by students are longer than haiku poetry but we are open to a school who gave their students the freedom of choice that may have resulted in a short winning poem selection.

+ May I require my students to write using only one theme (e.g., bullying, loss, friendship)?

No, required or restricted themes that limit student submission options are not permitted.

+ May I require my students to write using only one form or prompt for writing a poem (I am, Just Because, Haiku, Limerick)

No, required or restricted forms or prompts that limit student submission options are not permitted.

+ May students submit poems they have written prior to entering 7th grade?

Only poems written July 1 to January 15 should be submitted.

+ May I require my students to only write poems that rhyme?

No, requiring poems to rhyme is not giving them the creative autonomy required in the rules.

+ How do I select a winner?

Our expert poetry advisor has provided guidance beyond our requirement that the poem is to be selected based only on its written words, not personality or performance. Click here to read his guidance.

+ Why must the poem we send be typewritten?

At this grade level, we believe students should be trained to type their own work.

+ Submitting the Winning Poem

+ How do I submit the poem?

We will forward a link to the contact who completed the registration form that will make it easy to send us the MsWord document that is the school’s winning poem. This same link will be used for sending us the other required materials.

+ Why must the poems be sent as a MsWord document as a doc or docx attachment and not a pdf?

By receiving the poems in MsWord, it is easier for us to make formatting adjustments that will help the poem fit in book and to work with the poet regarding any corrections.

+ Will you or the student edit the poem as a final draft for publication?

We will have our Educator Liaison and our Poetry Advisor provide the educator with feedback on the submitted poem to share with the student. This input may include suggestions for improving the poem. This process has 7GP acting in its role as a poetry journal editor, the educator in the role as the literary agent for the poet and the student being now being treated as a poet who knows their poem is about to be published. The feedback is often shared with other students in the class to help them understand that poems can be revised. It is our policy that only the poet can make changes to their work. Click here to read some tips on helping your winner revise his or her poem.

+ What happens after I select the winner?

A photo of the student, a singed parent/guardian release form, a film of the student reading their poem, and completion by the educator of the pre-event survey. Starting this year, we will be providing a very easy online checklist for our registrants to use in January where they can easily attach each of these materials.

+ Why do you now require a filmed reading of the student?

Poems should be read aloud and shared. Students who have recorded their poems have said it helped them improve their pubic speaking skills and confidence, even getting over challenges of shyness. Some students have fun making or reading for the film. We also found that students will sometimes find opportunities for revisions to their poem when reading them aloud and the film captures those potential changes.

Educators have told us that the winning poems are so well written, other students and even some adults find it unbelievable a student in this grade level created the work. The film provides them with the evidence. We have been told that once the film is seen after the poem is read, students are even more excited about the freedom to create their own work and believe they also the ability to write poems of this high quality.

Starting in 2016, we will no longer guest-read poems in front of live audiences but we may show filmed readings from poets from other regions at live online broadcasts at our events.

+ How do we send the signed parent release form once we select our winner?

A scan or high resolution photo of the signed release form (.jpg)or a saved pdf can be attached to the online link we will forward by January and , of course, it can be mailed to our mailing address. We do not have fax capability. Our mailing address is The 7th Grade Poetry Foundation, P. O. Box 775077, St. Louis, MO 63177.

+ What if my student winner does not want to make a film reading their poem?

We will want to discuss the answer to this question on a case-by-case basis once the one winner has been selected. Please see our handout on why students should be filmed reading their poem.

+ Student Eligibility

+ Which students are eligible to participate in the contest?

Only students considered to be in the 7th grade from July 1 to December 31, 2015 may be considered for your school's 2016 7GP Contest. Schools are free to run other contests and provide opportunities for students in all grades to have their poems to be celebrated as trophies. Once selected as the winner in January, the student does not have to be enrolled in the same grade or school in order to qualify for the prizes and publication as long as the other contest materials have been sent to 7GP by their submission deadlines.

+ Why the focus on only 7th graders for your program?

Reading and writing poetry is a part of the standardized curriculum for 7th grade classrooms in nearly every state in the country. This is partially due to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a nationwide program developed by teachers, school administrators and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare children for college and the workforce. 7GP designed its approach to enhance school-based outcomes.

+ Why should I register if I only have one 7th grade student in my school?

We want every 7th grader to have a chance to write the best poem of their choice and be a part of our programming, regardless of the size of their school’s 7th grade student population. Of course, the student must still write a poem and have all support materials sent to 7GP in time for their deadlines in order to win the prizes. Some of the best poems and the program’s greatest impact stories have come from schools with only one 7th grade student.

+ Cost

+ How much does it cost our school to register?

There are no costs involved with registration and participation in the 7GP Contest and its programming.

+ Is there an entry fee for sending in the poem?

No, our program is free for all participants and attendees.

+ Will the student have to buy the book I which his/her poem is published?

The book is donated to the winning student and a copy is also donated to the school and the public library.