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Nashville Reads Teen Poetry Contest


Think about your favorite book and how you would feel if it were taken away from you forever. What's your opinion on censorship and book banning? How do you think they affect our world?

Write a poem about the impact of books and what the world would look like without them. Be sure to include your thoughts on the value and importance of books both to yourself and to society.

Important Dates

January 9–February 11: Submissions accepted. Poems received after 11:59 PM on February 11, will not be accepted.

February 13–21: Review and winner selection by the Nashville Reads Committee. 

February 25: Announcement of winners at the Nashville Reads closing ceremony. 


  • The poem, in its entirety, must be an original work by the student entering the contest.
    • Plagiarism is a serious, punishable offense.
  • One poem per student.
  • Poem must be one of the following styles:
    • Limerick
    • Sonnet
    • Ode
    • Elegy
    • Epic
    • Blank Verse
    • Free Verse
  • All poems must be written in English.
  • Contest entries must follow the stanza for the poem style.
  • Poems must contain at least 3 lines but cannot exceed 26 lines (including stanza breaks) and cannot exceed 55 characters per line (including spaces between words).
    • Any submission that exceeds these limits will be disqualified.
    • The poem title does not count as a line.
  • Do not use “texting lingo." Properly spell out all words and numbers.
  • Poems containing language that is vulgar, offensive, or wholly inappropriate will not be accepted.
  • To ensure proper lineation, please use the “Enter” key to start a new line, indicating all intentional line breaks.
  • Do not include your name or any other information at the end of your poem.


The winners will receive a certificate and a gift card to Parnassus Book store plus writing journals. Their poems will be published on the Nashville Reads website along with pictures and general information about the student.


Contest entries are judged based on poetic style, technique, effectiveness, and creativity. Entries should include use of poetic devices and follow specific styles to be judged accordingly.

This contest is free and open to all middle and high school students. All participants will be invited to attend the Nashville Reads closing ceremony, to be held on February 25.