The Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize recognizes outstanding work by student writers in the 11th grade in the U.S. or abroad. Contest judges are poets on the Princeton University creative writing faculty, which includes Michael Dickman, Paul Muldoon, Kathleen Ossip, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Nicole Sealey, Danez Smith, Patricia Smith, and Susan Wheeler.
Contest submissions for 2021-22 are now closed. Contest winners will be announced in April 2022.
To receive email updates about submission deadlines for the contest each year, please subscribe to our contest email list.
Applicants may submit up to 3 poems. The online submission will include a text version of the poems as well as a PDF file with the same content. The PDF file should include the poem entries first followed by a page that says END OF ENTRY, followed by a final page that includes student name, home address, email address, and telephone number, as well as the name of the high school and the high school’s telephone number. With the exception of the final page, all other pages of the PDF should only contain the poem entries and no other information identifying the student or school.
Name the PDF file with the student’s initials in this format: Initials-poems-2021.pdf (For example, if the student name is Kate Lee, the file would be named KL-poems-2021.pdf). Review this sample PDF file as an example for how to correctly format your entry.
Due to the volume of entries the contest receives, we are sorry that we do not have the staffing to correct your entry if you mistakenly include identifying information on your poems. We will have to disqualify any entry that includes your name, address, and/or high school information on the page(s) of your poem entries. Please check your file format carefully to make certain your identifying information only appears on a final page of your entry as directed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can submissions for the poetry contest be poems that are currently submitted to other contests?
Can the poems also be poems that have won other contests?
Can the poems be previously published?
Yes. If the poem(s) was published, please provide a reference for the date and media of publication.
Submit Your Poems
Submissions were due by November 28, 2021, at 11:59 PM (ET). Submissions are now closed.
Contest Winners & Updates
Winners for the most recent contest are posted below as of April 5, 2021.
First Prize – $500, Second Prize – $250, Third Prize – $100
A Note for High School Teachers
Thank you for your interest in the Leonard L. Milberg ’53 High School Poetry Prize. While we encourage the inclusion of poetry in the high school English curriculum, we ask you to please refrain from using the contest as an occasion to require all your students to submit a poem as a homework assignment. If you read the poems from the past student winners, you’ll see that they all carry a sense of urgency and necessity that is difficult to conjure when a student is obliged to submit a poem. Ideally, we hope motivated students will choose to enter the contest, and that they’ll come to see the writing and sharing of their poems as a joy rather than an obligation.
We’d also like to recommend the following poetry anthologies: