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A Contest to Name the Teen Poet Laureate of Suffolk County

An announcement from Dr. Richard Bronson:

County Legislators recently approved the creation of a Teen Poet Laureate of Suffolk County, a non-funded position with the inaugural two-year term beginning on June 1, 2022. While in office, the role of the Teen Poet Laureate will be to create opportunities to promote and bring poetry by and for young residents of Suffolk County into the community as a positive force and encourage others to reach their potential.  As noted by Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn, who sponsored the legislation, "Poetry is the link between one's soul and mouth. This important linguistic and artistic medium allows us to better understand ourselves and appreciate the complex relationships and world we share." 

Richard Bronson, M.D., the current Suffolk County Poet Laureate and faculty member at the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care, and Bioethics, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Book University, and the former poets laureate, invite you to participate in a Contest to select Suffolk County’s first Teen Poet Laureate.

This individual will be chosen based on three attributes:1) the quality of the poetry submitted, 2) evidence of significant youth leadership, and 3) evidence of civic engagement. Each participating junior high and high school in Suffolk County will establish its own selection process and nominate up to 2 individuals  by no later than January 31, 2022. Students ages 13 through 19 are eligible to enter the contest through sponsorship by their schools.

An introductory letter of support by the student’s school should be submitted, with three (3) poems, each no longer than 60 lines, which may be written in any form or style, and a CV documenting the candidate’s leadership and civic engagement. Poems and supporting documents should be submitted in a Word file (not a PDF file nor in the body of the email.)

Traditional forms of poetry (such as the sonnet, sestina, or villanelle), as well as free verse, may be submitted. The quality of the poetry will be judged by how the tools of poetic craft – imagery, metaphor, rhyme, rhythm – are employed. Entries are not limited to any theme or specific topic.  In addition to the submitted poems, evidence presented in the Teen Poet Laureate candidate’s CV of prior recognition of literary skill, such as the receipt of awards, will be taken into consideration.

The CV should also document examples of leadership and civic engagement, such as an activity (whether informally or formally sponsored) during which the candidate has promoted the quality of life in his or her school or community and demonstrated a commitment to equity and inclusiveness.

Submissions are rolling and may be received by email throughout October and the remaining months of 2021, but no later than January 31, 2022.   The judges, a panel of former Suffolk County poets laureate, will select five finalists, who will be asked to meet with them and read the poems each had submitted. The Teen Poet Laureate and runner-ups will be announced to an audience at the Walt Whitman Birthplace in March 2022, followed by a celebration that day.

If you need clarification regarding the details of the Contest, please email Dr. Bronson: