Poetry Contest 2023

Poets for Human Rights - Call For Submissions

 2023 Anita McAndrews Award Poetry Contest

And 2023 Renee Duke Youth Award Poetry Contest

I am very pleased to share good news from Youth Award alumnus Liana Tang. Liana, nom de plume Nicole Bloomfield, won 2nd prize for her poem “Prisoner’s Dilemma” in the 2021 Renee Duke Youth Award poetry contest.

Liana wrote:  “Participating in the Renee Duke Youth Award was an experience I fondly remember, especially since my poem was read out loud and I was interviewed by the Sailor's Review.” 

Liana contacted me recently to share exciting news that her co-authored young adult novel Stuck in Her Head is coming out in Hong Kong and in bookstores worldwide in late October.

Stuck in Her Head is ground-breaking as the first Young Adult novel to come out of Hong Kong.  Check out the promo, reviews and pre-order info at Stuck in Her Head – Two Teen Authors.

Poets for Human Rights is now accepting submissions for the 2023 Anita McAndrews Award and 2023 Renee Duke Youth Award poetry contests. 

Poets for Human Rights Call for Submissions

2023 Anita McAndrews Award poetry contest

Calling for poems inspired by Article 1. Of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Article I. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

No rants, protest poems or political poems, please.

Familiarity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is recommended.

*Cover sheet – include your name, address, phone number, email address, poem title, permission to publish, brief bio in the body of email.

*Send submissions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., in the body of email, or as pdf attachments only. No word.docs, hyperlinks or third party media will be accepted.

First prize $200, Second prize $100.

Submissions deadline: Midnight, Sunday, November 20, 2023.


*Submit one original poem, any style.  

*Formatting – left-justified (no centering or shape poems). No color. No graphics.  Font size - 12 point.

*Length - 1 page - 8 ½ X 11

*No simultaneous submissions or previously published poems.

Poets for Human Rights Call for Submissions

2023 Renee Duke Youth Award poetry contest

Send one original poem related to Human Rights.

Cover sheet : Include name, address, age, school and grade, permission to publish, poem title. Short bio is optional.

Contest is open to poets 19 years old and younger. There will be one cash prize of $150.


Familiarity with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is recommended. An abridged copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is available upon request.


No rants, protest poems or political poems, please. 


Winning poems will be announced and read at Poets for Human Rights annual awards on or around Dec. 10, the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Style: Any poetic form.

Length: 1 letter-size page.

Format: Left justified, 12 point font.

No colors, no graphics.

Submissions deadline: Sunday, November 20, 2023.

No simultaneous submissions or previously published poems.

Submit entries to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., in body of email or pdf attachment. No hyperlinks or word.doc attachments will be considered.

In subject line, write “poetry contest”

For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

2022 Poetry Contest Form

Please let us know your name.
Please let us know your email address.
Please write a subject for your message.
Please let us know your message.

First Prize – Reimagination by Timi Sanni

“Twelve children have been killed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank this year as well as 67 in the May attack on Gaza”— Al Jazeera, 24 Aug 2021

I knew them when they were not
nameless—beauty like the bloom
of dusk in their eyes. Only God
can make a boy into a garden of
geraniums, and yes, the bullet, too.
I imagine every gunshot was
answered with Allahu Akbar—
the bullet remembering its Maker,
the maker remembering God. God
remembering the day He said
I will create man and the angels
asked why. I imagine the soldiers
visit the roadside shops to pawn
their guns for love. I imagine
they look into the silvered eyes
of those they were sent to silence;
they say o brother, son of my father,
speak, and the reply comes: peace.
I imagine that the mention
of peace is enough to quench
the wildfire of a war brought
to consume the helpless. They say
that at the mention of God’s
name, everything bows, so why
is the bullet so stubborn?
I imagine. It’s the only thing I
can do without fail. Once I tried
to hold a gun; to learn the art of
answering a gunshot with another.
But God hugged me, pried away
the cold steel biting at my fingers.

I sobbed. He let me. His shoulders
were broad, and my tears dropped
like a liquid metal. Once, I tried
to say peace in the eye of a storm,
and stuttered. And God did not
reprimand me for this lack of faith.

About the poet – Timi Sanni is a Nigerian writer, editor and multidisciplinary artist. He was the winner of the 2020 SprinNG Poetry Contest, the 2020 Fitrah Review Short Story Prize, and third-place winner of the 2021 Stephen A. DiBiase Poetry Prize. He was also a finalist for the 2021 Lumiere Fiction Prize, and was longlisted for Frontier Poetry’s 2021 New Voices Contest. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in magazines such as The Black Warrior Review, New Delta Review, Palette Poetry, HOAX, Lucent Dreaming, and elsewhere.

3rd Prize – Killing of the Poets by Lao Rubert

My people are being shot and I can only throw back poems.
- Khet Thi, died in detention May 9, 2021

"They told me to come to the Interrogation Center," she said.
I thought he had a broken bone. I was wrong.
They removed his organs as a warning
to anyone who dared to write a poem
and read it out loud."

The Generals are not trained
to fight poems but know
verses live in the body
so they ordered one long gash down Khet Thi's chest,
cut out the organs and burned what was left.
They hoped to make the city safe from poets.
It didn't work.
Words still jump from body to body,
heart to spleen, find their way through air
chattering and singing.

On our side of the globe,
we discuss verb choices.
We do not speak of a February coup
or poets dying in Myanmar.
We don't talk of Ko Chan Thar Swe
burned after he left his monastery, became a poet.
We don't mention Ma Myint Myint Zin
shot in the head at a protest
or U Sein Win - his face dissolved with gasoline.

We haven't yet thrown poems back
that can threaten a General
but your words are spiraling in our chests, Khet Thi
and no army can stop them.

About the Poet - Lao Rubert is a poet who spent her professional career advocating for repeal of the death penalty and criminal justice reform. She lives in Durham, North Carolina. Her poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in Adanna, Atlanta Review, Barzakh, Collateral, Mer Vox, New Verse News, Poetry in Plain Sight, Snapdragon and Writers Resist.

2nd Honorable Mention - 9/12/2001 by Gabrielle Ghaderi


The day Americans never felt more unified.

The day Americans came together and rose up from the ashes of tragedy.


The day a Muslim woman left her house without her hijab. The day the Sikh man hid his turban in the dresser drawer.


The day my father began tucking his grandmother’s necklace, engraved with a prayer to Allah, into his shirt.



About the Poet - Gabrielle Ghaderi is an emerging writer from the Chicago area. As a half-Iranian woman, much of her work explores multiculturalism, identity, and race. Gabrielle has been published by Blue Marble Review, YES! Magazine, Non-White and Woman, and various local news outlets. She holds a BA in English-Writing from Illinois Wesleyan University

2nd Prize – Well Being by Judith Janoo

Let us be known

for the plea, sea to sea—one country,

lakes, plains, city streets,

essential work rewarded

long past pandemic disease.

Fairness regardless of skin or origin,

inequity’s truth an epiphany,

warding off war a gain.


Let us be known

for Lincoln and King,

for questioning, inventing,

justice boring through

smokescreens, through hate

berating those dragging their bones

as the richest gain riches.


Let us be known

for opposing those

who sharpen their claws

on our daughters’ plea

for a new economy

steeped in well being.


Let us be known

for clearing the sky for better lives,

now and then—an extra slice of pie,

known for the falcons’ wingbeat

freeing seas of hungry children

as the raptor’s shadow passes

dropping bills like uneaten seeds.

About the Poet – Judith Janoo lives in East Burke, Vermont. Awards for Judith’s poetry include the Soul-Making Keats Award, the Vermont Award for Continued Excellence in Writing, and the Anita McAndrews Award Poetry Contest. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her poetry has appeared in journals including The Fish Anthology, Pedestal Magazine, Sow's Ear and Main Street Rag.

1st Honorable Mention - Just Justice by Samantha Terrell


When we say we’re for equal rights,

That must mean we’re feminists.


If we’re for civil rights,

Apparently we are black.


We have to label ourselves with

A rainbow, if we want to support LGBTQs,


Yellow ribbons to show

We care about veterans.


And, don’t forget your pink ribbon

For breast cancer survivors.


When will all the labeling stop, so

De-stigmatizing can begin?


When will all the niceties finally fall apart, so

Messy realities can cover over superficialities?


Why can’t rights just be rights?

When will justice, mean just justice?


We’re not all black feminist lesbian veteran breast cancer survivors,

But we can all be the Americans America needs us to be.


About the Poet - Samantha Terrell , author of Vision, and Other Things We Hide From (Potter's Grove Press), is an internationally published American poet whose work emphasizes self-awareness as a means to social awareness. Her poetry can be found in publications such as: Anti-Heroin Chic, Dissident Voice, Fevers of the Mind, In Parentheses, Misfit Magazine, Red Weather, Sledgehammer and others, and has been featured on radio shows and podcasts from Wyoming to Glasgow and beyond. She writes from her home in upstate New York.

3rd Honorable Mention - Only Among the Wise by Daisy LaFond

“Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.” Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 18.


he reads the holy koran

heads to the mosque

on fridays


she reads the holy bible

sermonizes on



he is muslim

she is christian


married 25 years…


he prays the rosary

confesses his sins to a priest


she teaches Sunday school

cleans the church on Saturdays


he is catholic

she is moravian


married 50 years …


she worships on saturdays

keeps the sabbath holy

shuns the swine


he walks & meditates

keeps his temple holy

loves bbq ribs


she is adventist

he is agnostic


married 35 years…


& so it is


love is respect

respect is love


love is peace

peace is love


but only among the wise



About the Poet - Daisy Holder Lafond was born on St. Thomas, USVI; has lived in New York, Trinidad & Tobago and Toronto, Canada, where she studied Creative Writing and Magazine Journalism. A former newspaper editor, columnist and magazine publisher, her work has appeared in various publications including Canadian Author & Bookman, The Globe & Mail, The V.I. Daily News, The V.I. Voice, The Caribbean Writer, Small Axe: A Caribbean Journal of Criticism, Moko Caribbean Journal, Poui Cave Hill Literary Annual and Interviewing the Caribbean. Additionally, she is co-author of All This is Love – A Collection of Virgin Islands Poetry, Art & Prose. In 2012, she received The Caribbean Writer’s Marguerite Cobb McKay Prize and in 2016 was Second Place Winner in Small Axe Poetry Competition. Additionally, she is a V.I. government retiree and resides on the island of St. Croix, USVI. She has two adult sons and one granddaughter.

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