Contest Guidelines

Sarah Mook Poetry Contest for Students 2021, seventeen years and counting!

Last March was a tumultuous time for everyone. Teachers and students were all scrambling to transition to online teaching and learning in the weeks leading up to the contest deadline, so it was not surprising the number of entries was less than prior years. Still, we received more than 800 entries with winners from ten different states! We are grateful for your support and hope to see many more poems in 2021. Perhaps poetry takes on an even greater significance during challenging times like these. In any event, let’s all hope for less tumult this March. Cash awards are $100 First Prize, $50 Second Prize, $25 Third Prize in each of four categories: kindergarten through second, third through fifth, sixth through eighth, and ninth through twelfth. Postmark deadline is March 31, 2021.

Additionally, thanks to Sarah’s kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Olwen Jarvis, three kindergarten poets will receive cash awards to purchase books for their school libraries: First ($100), Second ($50), Third ($25). Kindergarteners who are not yet able to write will often compose orally. A scribe (older student, teacher, parent) can write down the young poet’s exact words to capture these earliest spoken poems. Sarah began writing poems in kindergarten with help from a parent volunteer. Bees With Fish Wings, is a beautifully illustrated children’s book which includes all of Sarah’s poems and worksheets to help even the youngest poets write their very own first poems! More details here (Link to Bee’s Page).

It has been our custom to suggest an optional donation of $5.00. Those donations, payable to Sarah Mook Outreach Fund, will be given again this year in Sarah’s name to Save the Children Fund for their work with refugee children here in the U.S. and all around the world. Thank you!

While cash awards and philanthropy are important, the purpose and focus of the contest is always the young poets and their poems. Careful consideration is given to every poem, and the finalists’ poems are read numerous times before any decisions are made. Final judge Marie Kane takes great care in judging each poem and provides a detailed commentary on the poetic merits of each of the winning poems. Previous winners and runners-up are allowed to enter again (as they often have over the years) provided they use different poems.


  1. Enter up to TWO POEMS (No more) of the STUDENT’S ORIGINAL WORK. Poems can be of any length, on any subject, and in any style. Poems should be typed or word-processed.
  2. Please include a SEPARATE COVER SHEET with the student’s name, grade, school name (HOME SCHOOLERS WELCOME) and the poem titles. The student’s name, address, or school should not appear on the poems themselves.
  3. To promote fairness, any student whose poems have been previously read by our final judge Marie Kane in this contest or any other is advised to submit different poems. Entries will not be selected if recognized by the judge.
  4. Teachers: When submitting a class set of poems, please include your name, address and contact information for the school, list of student names, their poem titles, grade level for each student, and a self-addressed-stamped-envelope or email address to receive the results.

Please note that a donation is optional. All poems received will be eligible for prizes. However, entries must be Postmarked by March 31, 2021. Winners will be announced in late May. Winning poems from previous years with judge’s comments can be viewed on the web site:

Mail entries to:
Sarah Mook Poetry Prize
896 Ferncliff Road
Poultney, VT 05764

We look forward to reading your poems!

Thank you, and stay well,
David Mook and Family