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CEAM announces 2017 Tell It Poetry Contest

Contest open to all 5th-12th students in St. Louis region

The CEAM Team is excited to announce its annual writing contest for St. Louis area students.

This year’s contest is a little different than previous years, which were essay based, with CEAM asking students to write a poem, rap or song about a teacher or program at their school which inspires them.

The contest is open to all  St. Louis region traditional, charter and private school students in 5th-12th grade, with separate contests being held for middle school and high school level students.

Poetry for the “Tell It!” poetry contest will be accepted in all forms. Any style of poetry is open for consideration: free verse, haiku, rap, etc. Students can even submit links to videos of raps or songs, although CEAM requests that they also provide a written version of their submission.

The contest is open from Aug. 8 through Nov. 27 and winners will be awarded the week of National School Choice Week.

To enter the contest, please click here.


Winners will be awarded their own laptop

The writers of the top poem, rap or song submitted at both the middle school and high school level will each win their own laptop computer.

Second and third place winners in each category will each be awarded their own tablet filled with educational apps.


Poems to be judged by top St. Louis poets

The final winners of the contest will be chosen by two of St. Louis’s top poets, first St. Louis Poet Laureate Michael Castro and Jane Ellen Ibur who has been nominated to be the next St. Louis Poet Laureate.

Castro and Ibur will review the top 30 submissions based on the following criteria:

  • Originality & Creativity (50%) – does the piece affect the reader i.e. is it powerful, entertaining and have beauty.
  • Technical Excellence (25%) – contains no grammatical errors, misspelled words or typos and if it does, is it clear why.
  • Appropriate use of Theme (25%) – does the piece answer the question in a way the reader/listener can understand.


Students encouraged to be creative

Ibur, who has written a poem every day for over 2,000 days, said students should use the contest as a platform to explore new ways of looking at the world around them.

“Your inspiration should come from a teacher or program that has really inspired you, really moved you or maybe changed your life,” she said. “Use great action verbs, use similes and metaphors, onomatopoeia and personification.

“Use your five senses,” she added. “Make it so that we are there with you. You could even write from a different perspective like from the perspective of a desk that has been in the classroom for the past 30 years.”

She noted that poems do not have to rhyme and encouraged students to revise their first version of a submission and even to have other people read it before making a final submission.

Ibur said she has seen poetry change the lives of many people, including herself.

“Poetry is for everybody,” she said. “Poetry can show any mood you are in. It can wind its way around a feeling and explode like a flower.”

Students looking for a starting point could begin by listening to the lyrics of their favorite songs or exploring other poets through poetry anthologies like Poetry 180.

“The most important thing is to enjoy the writing,” added Ibur. “Enjoy it! Enjoy it! Enjoy it!”

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