Claudia Emerson Teen Poetry Contest

Celebrate National Poetry Month with the Claudia Emerson Teen Poetry Contest. 2019 marks our sixteenth year hosting this event!

Teens in grades 6-12, from Fredericksburg, Stafford, Spotsylvania and Westmoreland, and out-of-region library cardholders are invited to submit their original poetry online between April 1-15, with a maximum of two entries per person.

Winners are selected from participants in two categories - grades 6-8 and grades 9-12 - and are chosen anonymously by faculty from the University of Mary Washington: Amanda Rutstein, Adjunct English Instructor, and Laura Bylenok, Assistant Professor of English. Winners are awarded cash prizes and invited to read their work at Teen Poetry Night.

Enter the contest here.


Teen Poetry Night

Treat yourself to an evening of poetry read aloud at the Claudia Emerson Teen Poetry Night Reception at the Fredericksburg Branch on Wednesday, May 15, 7:30-8:30. This celebration of our local talented young people will include readings by the winners of the contest. All ages.


Claudia Emerson, 1957-2014

We would not be celebrating our annual Teen Poetry Contest if not for the help and guidance of Claudia Emerson, a former professor at the University of Mary Washington and a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, who also served as Virginia's Poet Laureate. She judged the Teen Poetry Contest and hosted Teen Poetry Night from its inception, encouraging countless young poets and gently shaping the event as it grew to over 300 entries. Before each winning poem was read, Claudia shared what it was about that poem the moved her. Her goal was to empower the young poets, and her comments showed the depth of thought and attention she had given their works.

Claudia's talent as a poet was equaled by her generosity of spirit and passion for developing young poets.

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