Poetry contest

Our 10th Annual Spring Poetry Contest for Teens: Do a Blackout Poem from The New York Times

Q. Why are you limiting this to the print version of The New York Times?

A. This is the only competition we run all year – or, indeed, have ever run – that requires the printed paper, so while we apologize in advance for any burden this may place on you, we are also excited to see what students will discover.

They will be working in a format that most have little experience with and which many experts predict may soon cease to exist altogether. So consider this, in part, as an exercise in media literacy, especially since some research shows that print readers are much better consumers of information than digital readers.

Q. I don’t have a subscription. Where can I find copies of The Times?

A. Most public libraries in the United States have The Times in print and can give you articles from previous days, weeks, or months. Most Starbucks and most major drugstore, grocery and convenience store chains also carry The Times, as do many bookstores.

If you need to buy a copy, you’ll probably only need one. Since students can use any page of the printed paper and can compose and submit as a group, a single weekday copy of The Times will give you almost 50 pages to work with, while the Sunday paper will give you hundreds.

Q. Can I just use a photocopy of a page from The Times, or does it have to be the real newspaper?

A. It must be the real paper.

One reason for this is that we want students to skim the pages, understand how a printed newspaper works, and make their own choices. After a decade of running student contests on this site, we’ve found that the best work always comes from teenagers who have had the most “voice and choice” over what to choose and how to create.

(However, if you don’t have many copies of The Times to work with, it’s certainly a good idea to photocopy some pages for students to practice before creating their final versions.)