Poetry Contest for High School Students

The Program in Creative Writing’s Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students recognizes outstanding work by student writers in the 11th grade. The jury consists of members of the Princeton University Creative Writing faculty such as Michael Dickman, Paul Muldoon, James Richardson, Tracy K. Smith, Susan Wheeler, and Monica Youn.

The 2018 contest details and application will be available here soon. Online submissions will be due no later than midnight EST on Monday, November 27, 2017.

Prizes: First Prize – $500, Second Prize – $250, Third Prize – $100


2017 High School Poetry Contest Winning Poems

First Place:
Joseph Felkers, “Gunsafe”
Caledonia, MI

Second Place:
Darius Christiansen, “Blueprint of the South”
New Orleans, LA

Third Place:
Hadassah Amani, “Clutching Thistle”
Miami, FL

Read the winning poems …


Honorable Mentions:

Margot Armbruster, “Kerosene”
Elm Grove, WI

Jennifer Boyd, “Trapeze Song”
Hull, MA

Emma Crockford, “State Bird”
Middleboro, MA

Aidan Forster, “Bildungsroman with Distant Nation”
Taylors, SC

Jacqueline He, “Marilyn”
San Jose, CA

Christina Im, “Someday I’ll Come Back for Korea”
Portland, OR

Gina Kim, “suburbia”
Glenview, IL

Cristian Melendez, “Energetic Variance”
San Elizario, TX

Iggy Shuler, “Eating Panic Fish at Lake Marion”
Greenville, SC

Meredith Tamirian, “Love after a Breakup”
Allendale, NJ

Alisha Yi, “Afterword Theory”
Las Vegas, NV

Joyce Zhou, “The Way We Remained”
Naperville, IL

Abraham Zuraw, “Weird Sun”
Oak Park, IL




Sorry, the application period is now closed. No late applications will be accepted.

2016 Contest Winners

1st Place: Hillel Rosenshine – New York, NY
2nd Place: Emily Ling – Greenville, SC
3rd Place: Katherine Liu – Lincolnshire, IL

Read the winning poems …


Honorable Mentions:

Annabelle Crowe, “Christ of the Abyss”
Asheville, NC

Kathryn Hargett, “A man pushes my classmate in front of an eighteen-wheeler then takes communion”
Birmingham, AL

Allison Huang, “In the Wake”
Princeton, NJ

Karissa Kang, “In Mother’s Absence”
Andover, MA

Suzan Kim, “Dear H.S. Expatriate,
Cresskill, NJ

Irene Vazquez, “The Three Things She Was Most Afraid Of—Until She Wasn’t”
Houston, TX

Past Winners

* Note: The Princeton University Poetry Contest for High School Students was formerly called the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Secondary School Poetry Contest.

» Read the 2015 winning poems
» Read the 2014 winning poems


Past winners who have gone on to become Princeton University students include:

Daisy Bassen ’98 – “Winning the prize made me aware of the Creative Writing program at Princeton and showed me how warm and encouraging it is to young poets.”

Caitlin Crounse ’99 – “It confirmed my most cherished, outlandish suspicion: that I might actually be a poet.”

Jon Queally ’00 – “Winning this prize meant that there was the possibility that I had something of value to say.”

Efe Balikcioglu ’10 – “Receiving the prize encouraged me to pursue improving my talent in every aspect here at Princeton.”

Kat Kulke ’17 – “Winning the prize gave me a new faith in myself as a writer and opened my eyes to the vibrant writing community at Princeton.”

Load More...