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Poetry Ourselves

About the Program

Poetry Ourselves is a statewide original poetry competition for students in grades 9-12. Whether you write lyrics to music or write sonnets about nature, young people like you have important things to say. The Indiana Arts Commission wants to celebrate your poetry through our Poetry Ourselves program.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Students in grades 9-12 in Indiana
  • One poem per student

Poetry Ourselves Indiana program reserves the right to not consider poems that involve hate speech, pornographic imagery, or other elements deemed inappropriate. Any poems that are not original or are plagiarized will be disqualified.

Program Details


  • February 3: All poems must be submitted online
  • Week of February 27: Award recipients will be notified via email

Review Process

Poems will be judged by a panel of qualified professional poets, writers, and field experts. Poems will be judged on the criteria of:

  • Creativity - the extent to which the poem is creative and provokes thinking in its reader.
  • Poem structure - the extent to which the poem has an intentional, consistent structure that aids in the effectiveness of the poem.
  • Poem Engagement - the extent to which the poem conveys an idea, thought, or story through clear imagery, specific, concrete details and fresh use of language.

More information is available in the 2022- 2023 Poetry Ourselves Guidelines.


Award recipients in both spoken word and written categories will:

  • Receive a cash prize
    • 1st place winners receive a $75 cash prize
    • 2nd place winners receive a $50 cash prize
    • 3rd place winners receive a $25 cash prize
  • Receive Poetry Ourselves award certificates
  • Be honored at the Poetry Out Loud award ceremony in March 2022
  • Receive a signed book from a published poet
  • For original poems, have their poem entered into the INverse Indiana Poetry Archive
  • Honorable mention award recipients will also receive a certificate of recognition and may have their poems accepted into the INverse poetry archive.

2022 Winners:

  • Arnav Gupta, 2022 Written Category State Champion
  • Stella Grable, 2022 Written Category 2nd Place Winner
  • Perrena Stockard, 2022 Written Category 3rd Place Winner
  • Elizabeth Haskett, Spoken Word Category State Champion
  • Gus Hagedorn, Spoken Word Category 2nd Place Winner
  • Riley Bauges, Spoken Word Category 3rd Place Winner

2021 Winners:

For information and questions, contact the Poetry Ourselves State Coordinator Stephanie Haines at or (317) 450-9973.

Interested in taking part in the statewide poetry recitation competition? Check out Poetry Out Loud.