P.O. Box 8517
Omaha, NE 68108


Nebraska Poetry Activated Competition

This year, in partnership with the Nebraska Arts Council, Nebraskans for the Arts is inviting 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 Jobo 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 is welcoming 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.

Submission Details & Eligibility

The submission deadline has been extended to this Friday, June 4th. Submissions will be accepted via the form at the bottom of this page. 

Submissions should meet the following criteria:

  1. Submitted as a PDF or Word Document (.doc).
  2. Formatted with the poem’s title in italics at the top of the page.

Students should meet the following eligibility criteria:

  1. Students must be residents of Nebraska.
  2. Students must be in grades 9 through 12. Submissions from rising freshmen and graduating seniors will be accepted.
  3. Entries from students at public and private schools are eligible to compete, as well as students that are home-schooled.

If you have questions about the above criteria, please contact Skyler Dykes, the Interim Executive Director of Nebraskans for the Arts, at skyler@nebraskansforthearts.org.


Poems will be adjudicated by a panel of three judges with extensive knowledge of poetry and poetry composition. Works will be judges on the following criteria: originality, expressive use of language, clarity of topic, and effectiveness in conveying message. The topic selected by the student will not hold weight in how their work is adjudicated.

Winners will be announced via Facebook Live and email at 5:30 pm on June 15th, 2021.


1st Place: $200

2nd Place: $100

3rd Place: $50

Finalists: Poems written by the 1st – 3rd place winners and all finalists will be compiled into a miniature booklet and mailed to students in July.

2021 Nebraska Poetry Activated Competition – Submission Form

  • Please list the school you are currently attending or attended spring semester of 2021. Rising freshmen should list the high school they plan to attend fall semester of 2021.
  • Please select the grade in which you were enrolled spring semester of 2021. Rising freshmen should select “9th Grade.”
  • Accepted file types: pdf, doc, Max. file size: 300 MB.
    Please attach your original poem. No identifying information (name, school, etc.) should be listed on the document you choose to attach.