Poetry contest

Pulitzer Center Fighting Words Poetry Contest 2022 for K-12 students

Deadline: May 15, 2022

How can poetry be an effective response to current events and unknown stories? How can we use poetry to connect global issues to our local and personal contexts? Students are invited to explore these questions and have their voices heard in their entries for the 2022 Fighting Words Poetry Contest.

The Pulitzer Center offers worksheets and resources to help students write their poems, materials for teachers who guide their students through the project, and free virtual workshops for participating classes. All documents are available 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


  • Any current K-12 student in the United States or abroad can participate.
  • Students can write in any language and are welcome to submit multilingual poems.
  • Judges will have proficiency in reading English and Spanish.

Judgment criterion

Poems will be judged according to 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?
    • Did I use poetic devices (eg repetition, imagery, metaphor), or choose not to use them, to achieve a specific effect?

2. Successful inclusion of lines 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 that their presence feels natural?

3. Thoughtful choice of perspective and respectful treatment of the subject

  • Questions to ask yourself:
    • What is my relationship with the story I chose? How can I establish a personal connection?
    • Why am I writing from my chosen point of view? What other perspectives could I choose, and how would those choices change the poem?
    • If the subjects of the story I chose read my poem, how might they feel?


Fill out the form, then upload the text of your poem as an attachment. You can also attach a video or audio recording of yourself performing the poem; this second file is optional.

Click here to apply

For more information, visit Pulitzer Center Poetry Competition.