GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Starting February 1, if you live in Kent County, you can submit a poem to the Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition. That includes anyone who attends school in Kent County, including Grand Valley State University. 

Each person can submit a single original, unpublished poem for the competition. It's free, and there are cash prizes for the winners, along with publication, and a chance to participate in a public reading in June. 

The competition was started in 1968. Poet James Allen started it after the founder of the Dyer-Ives Foundation, John Hunting, encouraged him to. The goal is to encourage excellence in writing and provide recognition for quality local work. Poets 5-years-old or more in Kent County can submit an entry from February 1 to February 29. 

The winners will be selected in three age categories, kindergarten through eighth grade, high school through undergraduate, and graduate student through adult. Each category's winners will also be published in Voices

Poetry reading
Grand Rapids Public Library

Local poets will serve as judges for the first tier of the competition. They will decide which poems will continue on to be viewed by  the national judge. This year, that is Keith S. Wilson. He is an Affrilachian Poet and Cave Canem fellow. He is a recipient of an NEA fellowship as well as fellowships/grants from Bread Loaf, Kenyon College, Tin House, MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, UCross, and Millay Colony, among others. Wilson serves as Assistant Poetry Editor at Four Way Review and Digital Media Editor at Obsidian Journal. His first book, Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love, was published by Copper Canyon. Keith’s work has appeared in Poetry, Elle, The Kenyon Review, Adroit Journal, Boston Review, Crab Orchard Review, Narrative, 32 Poems, Arts & Letters, Rhino, and Vinyl. 

In previous years, William Stafford, Gwendolyn Brooks, Anne Sexton, James Wright, Diane Wakoski, Robert Bly, Naomi Shihab Nye, former United States Poet Laureate Billy Collins, as well as former Grand Rapids Poet Laureates, Linda Nemec Foster and Patricia Clark have all served as the national judge. 

Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition
Grand Rapids Public Library

The competition is funded by the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation Dyer-Ives Foundation Poetry Fund. 


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