National Poetry Month Poster Contest

National Poetry Month Poster Contest

2019 national poetry month poster contest for students

The Academy of American Poets, the originator and organizer of National Poetry Month, invites students in the United States who are in grades 9 through 12 to enter artwork to be considered for the official April 2019 National Poetry Month poster. For the first time in twenty-two years, the poster, which is sent to 100,000 libraries, schools, bookstores, and community centers nationwide and made available by download on, will feature a student’s winning artwork. The winning student will be featured on, in American Poets magazine, and will receive $500 plus signed copies of books by this year’s judges, Academy Chancellor Emeritus Naomi Shihab Nye and renowned graphic designer and educator Debbie MillmanSubmissions will be accepted online between September 1 and October 31, 2018. 

Finalists will each receive a copy of American Journal, an anthology of fifty contemporary poems selected and with an introduction by U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Tracy K. Smith, published by Graywolf Press.

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


  • Only students living in the United States and enrolled in grades 9 through 12 during the 2018–2019 academic year are eligible.
  • Each submission must be original artwork by one student. Artwork created in collaboration by more than one student is not eligible.
  • Submitted artwork must incorporate one of the five excerpts of poetry below, all of which are from poems by Tracy K. Smith:

“History is a ship forever setting sail.”

read the full poem
“When the poem finally arrives, it grins
And watches back with wide credulous eyes.”

read the full poem
“And in this night that is not night,
Each word is a wish”

read the full poem
“Like a wide wake, rippling
Infinitely into the distance, everything
That ever was still is, somewhere,
Floating near the surface”

read the full poem
“…And then our singing
Brought on a different manner of weather.
….We took new stock of one another.
We wept to be reminded of such color.”

read the full poem
For examples of how text has been incorporated in past posters, visit our National Poetry Month poster gallery.


  • Technical skill: the artwork must display artistic skills 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. 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: students who are selected as finalists will be required to submit a 300-word artist’s statement that explains how the artwork responds to or engages with the line(s) of poetry.


  • The contest submission period opens September 1, 2018, and closes October 31, 2018, at 11:59 pm 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.
  • 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.
  • The artwork must be 18.25” x 21.5.” The most important elements of the artwork (“active space”) must not extend beyond 17.25” x 17.75.” For a visualization of these specifications, please reference the Poster Contest Specs.
  • The artwork must be submitted as a PDF or JPEG.
  • For digital art or graphic design submissions, the design must be 300 dpi and RGB color, and all fonts must be embedded.
  • Finalists will be notified by the Academy of American Poets by November 16, 2018.
  • Finalists must submit an artist’s statement via email by November 30, 2018.
  • Finalists must submit a form via email stating their artwork is original by November 30, 2018. 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 December 10, 2018.
  • The winning student must coordinate with the Academy of American Poets to produce the final PDF for printing on the official 2019 National Poetry Month poster by December 14, 2018.


  • 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 contest should be addressed to the Academy of American Poets at



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