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Poetry (Written)

A composition, marked by language chosen for its sound, beauty and evocative power.


  1. Submit (1) notarized original poem, along with six (6) copies of the notarized original on or before the specified deadline.
  2. The top of each page must include the contestant’s name, page number and unit name and number.
  3. Poems should be typed, using 12 point Times New Roman, Verdana, Georgia,  or Comic Sans. Please no other fancy typefaces or graphics. Poems should retain original form that they were created in and do not have to be double-spaced. Individual poems may be free verse or rhymed metrical poetry containing stanzas.  Poems should not exceed three (3) pages.
  4. The contestants will be interviewed about their work by the judges. 

Note: The deadline for submission of  National registration documents is the first Friday in May. No materials or copies will b e accepted at the National Competition.

Contestants Will Be Judged By The Following Criteria:

  • Emotional Connection  (20 pts)
    Is the poet emotionally connected to the topic they are writing about and does the poem elicit an emotional response from the reader? 
  • Original Thought  (20 pts)
    Has the poet tackled an interesting subject or created something new with their work, or are they simply parroting belief systems or ideas that they have heard from someone else.
  • Sequential development  (20 pts)
    Does the poem follow a distinct path or does it wander without every really getting to the point. Are there too many things going on in the poem? Is there a strong ending, or is it forced?
  • Structure or form, and overall presentation  (20 pts)
    How is the poem constructed? Are there appropriate line and stanza breaks? Does the poem have a strong title? Does the poem contain appropriate grammar and punctuation?
  • Use of language as it relates to theme  (20 pts)
    Does the poet use figurative language including vivid imagery, similes, metaphors, hyperbole, or idiom? Is the voice active, are the senses engaged?

Click Here to Submit an Online Application

 Click Here to Download the Requirements and Judging Criteria for all ACT-SO Categories.

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