Spoken Word Contest

Submit a poem using the contest theme: Write The World video contest 2022 23 sm

Spoken Word is a form of poetry that is created to be performed for an audience. It can contain elements of rap, hip-hop, storytelling, theater, and jazz, rock, blues, and folk music while making use of rhyme, repetition, improvisation, and word play to convey a story. 

Prize-winning poems employ a number of poetic devices, including figurative language, vivid imagery, personification, alliteration, and irony, just to name a few. Poems that are creative, uncommon, and thought-provoking ways often grab judges’ attention.

Enter your written poem and recorded video based on any style of what you want the world to know. Each entry will receive a prize pack and have a chance to have their entry released in April for National Poetry Month.


The contest is open to Virginia students in grades 5-12 attending a school with a local unit PTA/PTSA in good standing.


  • Poetry can be written in any poetic style and must be based on the selected writing prompt.
  • A poem in its entirety must be an original work by the person entering the contest.
  • Plagiarism is a serious offense and will be grounds for immediate disqualification.
  • Only one poem per person is allowed.
  • Contest entries must be at least 3 but cannot exceed 26 lines (including stanza breaks) The poem title does not count as a line.
  • Do not double-space.
  • Poem must adhere to basic rules of capitalization:
  • Do not type poem in all capital letters.
  • Do not capitalize the first letter of every word.
  • Only capitalize words that are proper (i.e. names and places).
  • The first word of each line may be capitalized if it is done consistently throughout.
  • Do not use “texting” lingo. Properly spell out all words and numbers.
  • Poems containing language that is vulgar, offensive, or wholly inappropriate will not be accepted.
  • To ensure proper lineation, please use the “Enter” key to start a new line, indicating all intentional line breaks.
  • Do not include your name or any other information at the end of your poem.

Judging Process

Contest entries are judged based on poetic technique, effectiveness, style, and creativity. Review scoring guidelines for more information.

Entry Deadline:

Tuesday, February 28, 2023 at 12:00PM

First Round Submission

Submit release form along with your written entry and recorded video to submissions@vapta.org. Subject line "Spoken Word Contest Entry"

Release forms - Form

Acceptable video formats - mp4, m4v, mov, mpg, mpeg, wmv

Winner Announcement

Selected winners will be notified in March and invited to participate in a video release event.

Scoring Guidelines

Below is a set of guidelines to help acquaint you with the scoring system. These guidelines are also indicative of what the contest judges look for in contest entries.

Five Stars

  • Poem is wonderfully and concisely populated with vivid, interesting, relevant details and memorable, concrete images.
  • Surprising, convincing language captures the reader’s attention in the first line and keeps them intimately engaged to the end.
  • The last line of the poem is cleverly written, packs an unexpected punch, and is overwhelmingly effective.
  • Unconventional language and unordinary syntax create special effects and intrigue.
  • The poem is tightly written; every word, comma, and other punctuation is vital to the poem.
  • Poem is perfectly and cleverly populated with poetic devices1.
  • Poem powerfully and effectively reflects the poet’s intended style2.
  • If applicable, poem strongly displays the visual pattern and rhyme scheme of the chosen form3.

Four stars

  • Poem is nicely populated with strong, authentic, distinctive language; colorful creativity; and vivid details and imagery.
  • Poem maintains proper sentence structure, is grammatically sound and reflects effective word choice.
  • Punctuation is used expertly to emphasize the desired tone, to intensify certain words or phrases, to give signals, and to indicate pauses.
  • Poem contains strong, effective use of poetic devices1.
  • Poem strongly reflects the poet’s intended style2.
  • If applicable, poem strongly displays the visual pattern and rhyme scheme of the chosen form3.

Three stars

  • Poem is moderately populated with fresh, authentic language. Descriptive details help make the poem relevant and convincing.
  • Subject matter is interesting.
  • Sentence structure is adequately formulated and punctuated.
  • If applicable, poem is free of forced rhyme and unnatural syntax.
  • Moderate effort was made to incorporate poetic devices1.
  • Poem shows a valiant attempt to adhere to a certain style2.
  • If applicable, poem visibly adheres to a certain form such as stanzaic3.

Two stars

  • Poem is written mostly in everyday language.
  • Poem contains some cliché or trite language.
  • The meaning and/or feeling of the poem is understood but lacks creativity.
  • Sentence structure is inadequate and/or inconsistent.
  • Punctuation is inadequate and/or inconsistent, and grammar could use improvement.
  • If applicable, poem contains some forced rhyme but shows the poet’s effort in choosing rhyming words that fit naturally and appropriately.
  • Poem shows some use of poetic devices1.

One star

  • Poem is written entirely in everyday language.
  • The meaning and/or feeling is unclear and/or non-existent.
  • Throughout, poem contains clichés or trite language.
  • Lines are not written in proper sentence structure.
  • Poem is poorly punctuated, and grammar is weak throughout.
  • If applicable, end rhymes are forced throughout for the sake of completing a rhyme, making little sense and convoluting the structure of the poem.
  • Poem entirely lacks poetic devices1.


1 – Poetic Devices - imagery, figurative language, alliteration, assonance, consonance, metaphor, simile, symbolism, diction, rhyme, rhythm, meter, personification, onomatopoeia, repetition, tone

2 – Poetic Styles - rhythm and meter, rhyming poetry, free verse, blank verse, allegory, ballad, confessional, narrative, ode, satiric, burlesque, short verse, elegy, war poetry, inspirational poetry, macabre poetry, comic poetry, religious poetry, holiday poetry, etc.

3 – Poetic Forms - stanzaic, acrostic, cinquain, sonnet, haiku, limerick, villanelle, pantoum, sestina, terza rima, etc.