NJ Youth Poet Laureate logo


The New Jersey Youth Poet Laureate Program looks for works of poetry, rap, and spoken word from New Jersey students, grades 9-12. A panel of New Jersey poets chooses one writer each from North, Central and South Jersey to represent their region.

Applicants submit five original poems/raps/performances composed by the applicant, one of which must be a poem that addresses the theme of “Caregivers.”

In order to be considered for the Poet Laureate Awards you must submit five poems. You may submit less than five for consideration for the “Judges’ Choice” and “Mind Your Elders” award.

Submissions must be in by January 15, 2019 at 11:59 pm.

Submissions must all be made online via the form found further down this page.

The New Jersey Youth Poet Laureate Program is part of the National Youth Poet Laureate Program.

For more detailed information and rules, see the various tabs below.


All current New Jersey residents, grades 9-12 (or the equivalent) in the current school year. The contest is open to students in public, private, and religious schools,  as well as home-schooled students, and students in other non-traditional learning environments.

The three Laureates receive the following:

  • Inclusion of five poems in the National Youth Poet Laureate Program Northeast Region Anthology
  • Entry into the National Regional Contest, the winner of which receives a “book deal,” an anthology of their work.
  • Consideration for the National Youth Poet Laureate Award
  • A New Jersey Governor’s Award
  • A special performance of the New Jersey Youth Poet Laureate winners.
  • Additional opportunities to perform throughout the year as ambassadors of the NJ Youth Poet Laureate Program.
Additional Awards

A special category is announced each year. At least 25 poems will be selected for an online anthology.

The highest scoring individual poems will be presented in “Judge’s Choice,” an online anthology.

Important Dates

  • Submissions Open     June 1, 2018
  • Submissions Close     January 15, 2019, 11:59 pm
  • In order to be considered for the Poet Laureate Awards, writers must submit five poems. You may submit less than five poems for the other awards.
  • One poem must be a poem that deals with the theme of  “Mind Your Elders.”
  • Remember to proof your poems, and that your name is on every poem. If the poem is longer than one page, please paginate.
  • Poems should be submitted with 1″ margins, 12pt Times New Roman font.
  • For written work, we prefer the files be in a .doc, .docx, or .rtf file format.  We will accept .pdf format.
  • Important. Please format the file names of your poems/uploads as follows (No punctuation, please):

Last Name First Name Poem Title

So if Elizabeth Browning were submitting A Child Asleep, the file would look like this:

Browning Elizabeth A Child Asleep.doc

This will make it easier for us to find and keep your poems together.

Along with basic information on you and where you go to school, we will be asking for additional information. Having it available will speed up the submission process.  Along with basic information, you will also be asked to list:

  • some awards and accomplishments
  • volunteer and community service activities
  • participation in clubs, sports, after-school, or extra-curricular activities

You will be uploading directly into the submission form, so have your files ready.


Submission Form


Other Opportunities for Student Writers and Performers