This year, in partnership with the Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraskans for the Arts invited high school students (grades 9-12) across our state to participate in the first-ever Nebraska Poetry Activated: A poetry writing competition for students.
In the words of Poet Laureate, Janice Lobo Sapigao, “poetry is activism because, line by line, it contains the potential to ask difficult questions, to participate in literary spaces, to push past discomfort, and to build words where possibilities drive us.” This past year, from Amanda Gorman’s powerful speech at the Presidential Inauguration Ceremony to this anthology of poems that brought awareness to the plight of healthcare workers, audiences have witnessed the power of poetry to captivate, illuminate, and motivate. To reflect this moment, Nebraskans for the Arts welcomed students to compose and submit an original “advocacy poem” – a poem that brings to light an issue in their community, advocates for something about which they are passionate, or encourages progress in a specific area of society.
Poems were adjudicated by a panel of three judges with extensive knowledge of poetry and poetry composition. Works were judged on the following criteria: originality, expressive use of language, clarity of topic, and effectiveness in conveying message.
Winners were announced via Facebook Live and email at 5:30 pm on June 15th, 2021.
1st Place ($200):
Stephanie Schrader, Skutt Catholic High School
In Front of the Lincoln Memorial
2nd Place ($100):
Chizora Okolo, Omaha Marian High School
Black Lives Matter
3rd Place ($50):
Ava Krohn, Skutt Catholic High School
Who is She?
Kenzie Mattox, Lincoln Southwest High School
Beauty in the Eye of the Wrong Beholder
Kenadie Rudloff, Omaha Marian High School
One People, One Profit
Poems written by the 1st – 3rd place winners and all finalists were compiled into a miniature booklet and mailed to students in September. You can find the booklet in electronic format at the top of this page!