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National High School Poetry Contest

  • 2020-2021 National High School Poetry Contest

    Gannon University English Department Now Accepting Submissions

    The top three winners will receive a monetary award, a signed book by distinguished poet Sherwin Bitsui, and publication in the Gannon Writing Awards program.

    Poems may also win Honorable Mention awards.

    Winners will be notified by email in March 2021. Awards will be presented at the annual Gannon Writing Awards program.

    Submission email:

    Deadline: February 1, 2021

    Rules and Eligibility

    • Entrants must be a high school student or a home-schooled student in grades nine through twelve. Students from anywhere in the United States may enter.
    • Poems may be in rhyme, free verse, Haiku or other accepted poetry forms and of any length, up to a maximum of 40 lines. 
    • No entry may have been previously published.
    • Winners receiving a monetary award will be required to complete a W-9 form to receive their prize.
    • Results will be published on our website during the first week of April. Only the winners will receive individual notifications.

    How to Submit

    • Each student may submit 1 or 2 single-authored original poems as attachment(s) in ONE email.
    • The email subject line should contain the student's name
    • The text section of the email should contain student's name, addressphone numberemail address, school name, school address, instructor's name, instructor's email, and grade in school
    • The student's name, addressphone numberemail address and grade in school must also appear in the top left corner of each poem.
    • The student's schoolschool's addressschool's phone number, and a teacher's name and email address must appear in the top right corner of each poem.
    • Poems must be typed and submitted as PDF or DOCX or DOC. No other formats will be accepted. Submissions through Google docs links will not be accepted.
    • Questions may be addressed to Dr. Shreelina Ghosh at
    • View the contest poster


    Gannon English faculty members judge the poems. Each poem is read independently by at least two readers to determine finalists. The final decisions are made by two select faculty members, who will be named at the awards ceremony on April 16, 2021.

    44th Annual Gannon Writing Awards Program
    Poetry Reading by Distinguished Poet Sherwin Bitsui
    April 16, 2021, Waldron Campus Center, Gannon University
    Free / Open to Public 

    For more information, email  Dr. Shreelina Ghosh (

    About Distinguished Poet Sherwin Bitsui

    Sherwin Bitsui (Diné) is originally from White Cone, Arizona, on the Navajo Reservation. He is Diné of the Todich'ii'nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tl'izilani (Many Goats Clan). He is the author of Shapeshift (University of Arizona Press, 2003), Flood Song (Copper Canyon Press, 2009), and Dissolve (Copper Canyon Press, 2018). Bitsui has published his poems in Narrative, Black Renaissance Noir, American Poet, The Iowa Review, LIT, and elsewhere.

    His honors include a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship and a Native Arts & Culture Foundation Arts Fellowship. He is also the recipient of a 2010 PEN Open Book Award, an American Book Award, and a Whiting Writers Award.

    In addition to teaching at the Institute of American Indian Arts, he teaches for Northern Arizona University's MFA in Creative Writing program in Flagstaff, Arizona, and the Navajo sacred mountain Dóókóosliid is within view of the college campus

    Steeped in Native American culture, mythology, and history, Bitsui's poems reveal the tensions in the intersection of Native American and contemporary urban culture. As an ecopoet, his poems are imagistic, surreal, and rich with details of the landscape of the Southwest.


    "The formal integrity of Bitsui's lines enables seamless transitions from the momentary to the timeless, from each disorienting and dazzling idea to the next... Bitsui's exhilarating poetics lay in the blur of time, the slow and sure slide from ghostlike ideas into haunted-looking things, in constant erasure and redrawing: 'No language but its rind / crackling in the past tense.'" -Publishers Weekly

    "Bitsui's poetry returns things to their basic elements and voice in a flowing language rife with illuminating images. A great reading experience for those who like serious and innovative poetry." ―Library Journal

    "...The only way to read Bitsui is to trust his poetic momentum and embrace his brilliant work."-Booklist

    "[Bitsui's] images oftentimes depict a world-out-of-balance. Indeed, his work struggles with the tension between Diné and English, between the desire to restore a balance with the natural world and the recognition of how ineluctable the forces of twentieth century technology are. In struggling to reconcile these opposing forces, his poems and prose poems enact a personal ceremony."―Arthur Sze

    "When one runs across a young poet of incredible ability, it is hard not to pay attention. Sherwin Bitsui is such a poet, and his second book (Flood Song) presents a startling approach to Navajo experience... These untitled sequences of lyrics are disturbing in their familiar beauty and draw the reader into internal states that only a poet of an ancient land could translate into universal understanding."―Bloomsbury Review

    "Sherwin Bitsui sees violent beauty in the American landscape. There are junipers, black ants, axes, and cities dragging their bridges. I can hear Whitman's drums in these poems and I can see Ginsberg's supermarkets. But above all else, there is an indigenous eccentricity, 'a cornfield at the bottom of a sandstone canyon,' that you will not find anywhere else."―Sherman Alexie

  • English Awards Night Guest Poets, 1988-2020

    Past Poets Flyers
    • 1988: Lisel Mueller
    • 1989: William Matthews
    • 1990: Gwendolyn Brooks
    • 1991: Donald Hall
    • 1992: Lucille Clifton
    • 1993: Galway Kinnell
    • 1994: Sharon Olds
    • 1995: W.D. Snodgrass
    • 1996: Kelly Cherry
    • 1997: Michael Harper
    • 1998: A.R. Ammons
    • 1999: Donald Hall
    • 2000: David Citino
    • 2001: Margaret Gibson
    • 2002: Marilyn Nelson
    • 2003: Miller Williams
    • 2004: Adam Zagajewski
    • 2005: Nancy Willard
    • 2006: Rafael Campo
    • 2007: Jerry Wemple
    • 2008: Ted Kooser
    • 2009: Li-Young Lee
    • 2010: Billy Collins
    • 2011: Cornelius Eady
    • 2012: Aimee Nezhukumutathil
    • 2013: George Bilgere
    • 2014: Naomi Shihab Nye
    • 2015: Patricia Smith
    • 2016: Dunya Mikhail
    • 2017: Ross Gay
    • 2018: Berwyn Moore
    • 2019: Denise Duhamel
    • 2020: Allison Joseph

    2020 Gannon Writing Contest Winners


    Undergraduate Category

    First Place:  “Tide”
    by Alex Stauff 
    Junior, Biology  

    Second Place:  Summer Job
    by Jordan Seroka
    Junior, Physician Assistant

    Third Place:  Immersion
    by Echo M. Seiersen
    M.A., Health Communication

    Honorable Mentions: 407
    by Kathryn Dickey
    Sophomore, Social Work       

    by Ben Seigel
    Sophomore, Pre-Optometry

    by Gabrielle Cabrera
    Junior, Applied Exercise Science      

    Ode to the Kid with Dreams
    by Alexa Rogers
    Senior, English


    First place: “After Some Time”
    by Raeona Hampton
    School of the Arts
    Rochester, NY

    Second place: “To My Childhood Love”
    by William An
    F.W. Springstead High School
    Spring Hill, Florida

    Third place: The Immigrant”
    by Dana Seria
    Rutherford High School
    Rutherford, NJ

    Honorable Mentions: 

    by Divya Mehrish
    The Spence School
    NYC, NY

    by Zhiyi Wu
    Western Reserve Academy
    Hudson, OH


    by Sahil Jain
    Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy
    Erie, PA

    by Eric Cui
    Northwest Pennsylvania Collegiate Academy
    Erie, PA



    First Place: Impact of Ready to Learn and Play Framework on Occupational Performance for Children with Autism
     by Janis Leinfuss
    Occupational Therapy Doctorate program

    Second Place: Creating Positive Attitudes Starts with Teachers
    by Karen Probst
    Occupational Therapy Doctorate program

    Third Place: Analyzing Influence from Facebook and Foreign News Outlets on the 2017 Charlottesville 'Unite the Right' Rally
    by Mary Mullings
    MPA Master of Public Admin


    First Place: Livestock-Associated Antibiotic Resistance
    by Alex Stauff
    Junior, Biology

    First Place: All the President's Men, the Presidency of Richard Nixon, and the death of Trust in American Government.
    by Ethan Bennett
    Sophomore, History/Secondary Education   

    Second Place: The Stigma of Mental Illness and the Use of Psychotropic Drugs
    by Kayla Moore
    M.A., Clinical Mental Health

    Third Place: Graves' Disease
    by Jordan Glowacki
    Junior, Physician Assistant                           

    Honorable Mention: The Future is Pink
    by Claudia Herrero
    Sohomore, Public Service and Global Affairs


    First Place: Prospects of Restoration for the American Chestnut
    by Peter Caulfield
    Freshman, Industrial Engineering

    Second Place: The Feasibility of LASIK Surgery
    by Lily Zheng
    Freshman, Optometry

    Third Place: Frequencies of Hope
    by Corinne Fischer
    Freshman, Occupational Therapy

    Honorable Mention: Should the United States Intervene in Venezuala?
    by Michael Guido
    Freshman, Political Science

    Honorable Mention: The Language Standard
    by Emily Adrian
    Freshman, English



    First Place: “Beloved professor retires, reflects on his journey
    by Veronica Kowalski
    M.A., Communication  

    Second Place: “MRSA outbreak causes rumors to swirl on campus
    by Madeline Bruce
    Sophomore, English 


    First Place: “Who the heck is Teddy Rankin?”                       
    by Chloe Forbes
    Sophomore, Communications  

    Second Place: “Profile: Being transgender at Gannon and beyond
    by Madeline Bruce
    Sophomore, English 

    Third Place: “O’Neill serves as role model for students
    by Olivia Hahner
    Junior, Journalism Communication 


    First Place: “Thanking my grandmother for memorable childhood
    by Alex Stauff
    Junior, Biology 

    Second Place: “Banning plastic straws is a Band-Aid solution to a much larger problem
    by Madeline Bruce
    Sophomore, English 


    First Place: 'Almost, Maine' Premieres At Schuster Theatre
    by Alex Stauff
    Junior, Biology   

    Second Place: Netflix Original 'Atypical' Improves on Previous Seasons
    by Madeline Bruce
    Sophomore, English 


    by Santosh Bhusal
    Senior, Accounting

    2019 Gannon Writing Contest Winners


    Undergraduate Category

    First Place: “The night my dad put his fist through the living room wall”
    by Nicole Borro 
    Junior, English  

    Second Place: “Dahlia Daydream”
    by Alex Stauff
    Junior, Biology

    Third Place: “Esoterically Arcane”
    by Vera Ampadu
    Sophomore, Nutrition and Human Performance  

    Honorable Mentions: “As Hemingway Intended”
    by Julia Fulton
    Senior, English            

    “The Life of a Snowflake”
    by Petra Shearer
    Sophomore, English/Theatre Performance  


    First place: "August Elegy"
    by Jonathan Chen,
    Livingston High School
    Livingston, NJ

    Second place: "pretty boy"
    by Grace Bragdon,
    St. Mary's Academy
    Portland, OR

    Third place: "Sweetener"
    by Hope Winger
    Venango Catholic High School
    Oil City, PA

    Honorable Mentions: "Crape Myrtle"
    by Benjamin Mathios
    Northern Highlands Regional High School
    Allendale, NJ

    "And Nobody Knows What Dinosaurs Really Sounded Like"
    by Corina Robinson
    Oak Park and River Forest High School
    Oak Park, IL

    "Love Goes Down" by Victoria Choe
    Livingston High School
    Livingston, NJ

    "Museum of My Own History, Age 16"
    by Jeffrey Liao
    Livingston High School
    Livingston, NJ 




    First Place: “The Politics-Administration Dichotomy”
    by Mary Mullings
    Master of Public Administration program

    Second Place: “Is there Evidence for Exposure to Endocrine Disruptors and  Reproductive Effects in Women? A Focus on Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs)”
    by Rachel Smith

    Third Place: “Ready or Not? Entry-Level OT Readiness for Interprofessional Collaboration”
    by Mary M. Iwanenko, MS, OTR/L
    Post-Professional Occupational Therapy Doctorate program        


    First Place: “Chronic Wasting Disease: CWD Transmission Throughout Ecological Levels and Possible Management Solutions”               
    by Joseph Lueck & Yasmin Mamani
    Junior, Biology

    Second Place:“Arabic Sociolinguistic Traditions and Male Power Structures”
    by Renée Laufer
    Junior, Psychology   

    Third Place: “The North American Free Trade Agreement – Why Did the United States Enter into NAFTA and has NAFTA Benefitted the United States?”
    by Marc Robin Gruener (Exchange Student)
    Senior, International Management                                     

    Honorable Mention: “A Review of Tricuspid Atresia”
    by Molly Minko
    Junior, Physician Assistant  

    An Analysis of the Representation of Artificial Intelligence in Four Contemporary Films: Her, Transcendence, Singularity, and Ex Machina
    by Abigail Ritchie
    Senior Communications Arts   

    “Dominion: Factory Farmed Meat, Eggs, and Dairy on Christian Plates”
    by Alex Stauff
    Junior, Biology  


    First Place: “The Economic Value of Bitcoin versus Fiat and Metallic Backed Currencies”
    by Timothy Caulfield
    Sophomore, Finance and Supply Chain Management  

    Second Place: “The Watson-Curtze Mansion Through a Different Lens”
    by Olivia Archer
    Freshman, Legal Studies  

    Third Place: “Efficiency of Occupational Therapy for Those with Parkinson’s Disease in the United Kingdom”
    by Kathryn DeDionisio
    Freshman, Occupational Therapy  /Psychology minor

    Honorable Mention:  “Inheritance, Detection/Determination, and Treatment of Mutations inPatients with Retinitis Pigmentosa”
    by Allison Walbridge
    Freshman, PCOM 3+4 Health Science  



    First Place: “Gannon removes name of former bishop”
    by Veronica Kowalski
    Senior, Journalism Communication  

    Second Place: “Changes come to Baskets of Blessings for 2018”
    by Harlee Boehm
    Senior, Journalism Communication  

    Third Place: “Gannon unveils cyber programs, I-HACK Center”
    by Veronica Kowalski
    Senior, Journalism Communication  

    First Place: “No such thing as offseason at Presque Isle State Park”                   
    by Julia Fulton
    Senior, English  

    Second Place: “Greek life becomes a part of Gannon University culture”
    by Olivia Hahner
    Sophomore, Journalism Communication  

    Third Place: “Students shimmy to annual Homecoming dance competition”
    by Maddy Bruce
    Freshman, English  

    First Place: “Learning to cope with anxiety can be important for students”
    by Olivia Hahner
    Sophomore, Journalism Communication  

    Second Place: “Respectful, peaceful protests will always work best”
    by Harlee Boehm
    Senior, Journalism Communication  

    Third Place:  “Adam Savage inspires editor”
    by Benjamin Haylett
    Sophomore, Physician Assistant  

    First Place: “’Trojan Women’ premieres at Schuster Theatre”
    by Alex Stauff
    Junior, Biology  

    Second Place: “’Bumblebee’ to roll out of theaters soon”
    by Benjamin Haylett
    Sophomore, Physician Assistant  

    2018 Gannon Writing Contest Winners

    Gannon Poetry Contest Winners


    First Place: "The Shattering"
    by Alex Stauff
    Physician Assistant Major

    Second Place:"A Night Like These"
    by Alex Rogers
    English Major

    Third Place:"When my dad is angry"
    by Julia McGregor
    Biology Pre-Medicine Major

    Honorable Mention:"He Sees"
    by Julia Fulton
    English Major

    Honorable Mention:"A Trans Plays on Words"
    by Alex Laufer
    Political Science Major

    Honorable Mention:"The Tranquil Girl"
    by Petra Shearer
    English Major

    Graduate Category

    First Place: "I burned a lof of fuel to get out of the house"
    by Spencer Myers
    Master of Arts in English

    Honorable Mention: "continuous incompleteness"
    by Mariana Syrotiak
    Master of Arts in English

    Honorable Mention: "Tuesday, 2:33 pm in the AC Moore"
    by Taylor Roth
    Master of Arts in English

    National High School Poetry Contest

    First Place:"Addressing My Mother"
    by Maya Green
    Sophomore,Charleston County School of the Arts
    North Charleston, South Carolina

    Second Place:"plink plink"
    by Maya Berardi
    Junior, Avonworth High School
    Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

    Third Place:"Sacramento"
    by Ilan Magnani
    Sophomore, Pittsburgh Creative and Performing ArtsSchool
    Pittsburg, Pennsylvania

    Honorable Mention:" To speak for fish"
    by Su Min Kim
    Senior, Bergen County Academics
    Hackensack, New Jersey

    Honorable Mention:"My Grandmother Speaks of The War
    by Emma Camp
    Senior, Alabama School of Fine Arts
    Birmingham, Alabama

    Honorable Mention:"Amphibian in Four Parts"
    by Michelle Schultze
    Freshman, Charleston County School of the Arts
    North Charleston, South Carolina

    Honorable Mention:"Alice"
    by Haemaru Chung
    Trinity School
    New York, New York

    Journalism Contest


    First Place: Gannon set to welcome MHA program in May
    by Brandon Jaces
    Journalism Communication Major

    Second Place: Greek social event policy revealed
    by Kate Robb
    History Major


    First Place: History professor releases second novel                 
    by Olivia Burger
    Pre-Optometry Major

    Second Place: Heathers: Behind the curtain
    by Roman Denisyuk
    Interdisciplinary Studies


    First Place: Finding God on Gannon’s campus
    by Rachel Nye
    Physician Assistant Major

    Second Place: Current news will never be what we want to hear
    by Harlee Boehm
    Journalism Communication Major


    First Place: Thrival Innovation
    by Olivia Burger
    Pre-Optometry Major

    Second Place: Gitnik Manse
    by Brittiny Lene
    Journalism Communication Major


    First Place: Placebo
    by Roman Denisyuk
    Interdisciplinary Studies

    Second Place: Pearl Jam documentary
    by Kyle Joseph
    Mechanical Engineering Major


    First Place: Gannon to welcome new teams in the fall
    by Kate Robb
    History Major

    Second Place: Volleyball concludes historic season in NCAA semifinals
    by Brandon Jaces
    Journalism Communication Major

    Peter C. Braeger Awards for Research Writing

    Graduate Category

    First Place: Plantar Warts: Highlighting the Relationship between Epidemiology, Pathophysiology, and Adequate Clinical Management
    by Dexter Witchey and Nicole Witchey
    Physician Assistant Program

    Second Place: TheInclusive Classroom Project: Differentiated Lesson Plans for Primary Source Document Analysis
    by Katherine Gigl
     Curriculum and Instruction Master of Education Program

    Third Place: Investigation of Business Opportunities and Challenges for an Engineering Consulting Firm in Israel
    by Chad Ellsworth
    Organizational Learning and Leadership Doctoral Program

    Honorable Mention:    “‘Where Pathways Meet’: Situating African-American Fantasy Within
    by Stephen Craig
    English Master of Arts Program

    Undergraduate Category

    First Place: Dermatomyositis: A Rare Autoimmune Disease of Middle Adulthood
    by Abigail Printz
    Physician Assistant

    Second Place: Shutter Island and JRR Tolkein: Trickery and Conspiracy
    by Ben Daghir

    Third Place (tie): An Evaluation of Parenting Styles and Their Impact on Children and Adolescents
    by Lillian Peterson

    Third Place (tie): The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: Past, Present, . . . and Future? "
    by Daniel T. Kaufmann
    Freshwater and Marine Biology and Environmental Science

    Honorable Mention: Decreasing School Dropout through Community Schools
    by Lydia Archinal
    Social Work

    Freshman Category

    1st Place (tie): United States and Climate Change: Facts and Fiction
    by Daniel T. Kaufmann
    Freshwater and Marine Biology and Environmental Science

    1st Place (tie): Influences of Animal-Assisted Therapy on the Cognitive and Emotional Capabilities of Dementia Patients
    by Mollie Minko
    Physician Assistant/Biology Minor

    2nd Place: Is Fracking Worth the Risk?
    by Justin Groshek
    Environmental Engineering