2022 Chicago Collections Consortium Teen Poetry Competition

Write a poem inspired by the culture and history of Chicago, and you can win $100!

In celebration of its 10th Anniversary, the Chicago Collections Consortium (in partnership with the Poetry Foundation and Chicago Public Library) is launching an annual poetry award for high school students in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. 

From architectural firms to social justice organizations, from artists, activists and immigrants to entrepreneurs, politicians and sports figures, Explore Chicago Collections captures the people, places and events that have made Chicago the great metropolis that it is today. Excite your curiosity and creativity by browsing this online portal of images and information, then write a poem inspired by what you find.


  • First, identify a topic that inspires you about the Chicago area (e.g. neighborhoods, buildings, people, etc.). Browsing the Explore Chicago Collections portal can help you discover an interesting idea.
  • Search the Explore portal for additional content to help flesh out your poem.
  • Put into words what you find and what has excited you about your topic.


Who: Open to Chicagoland high school students between the ages of 13 to 19 who live in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.

What: One poem per student inspired by or illustrated by content found on the CCC’s Explore Chicago Collections portal. Entries must be the original work of the student submitting the poem.

Evaluation process: Submissions will be judged by a panel of representatives of the Poetry Foundation, the Chicago Collections Consortium and poet educators. Evaluation will be based on originality and connection to content in the portal. All judges’ decisions are final. Award recipients will be notified in May 2022.

When: All entries to the 2022 EXPLORE Chicago Collections Consortium Poetry Award contest must be submitted by Friday, April 22, 2022 at 11:59 p.m.

An awards ceremony honoring winning poets will take place in late May at Harold Washington Library Center and will be open to the public. 

Awards: Five (5) poems will be recognized with an award of $100 each.


  • Limit one original poem per student. Poems have a limit of 50 lines. Blank lines between stanzas are not counted.
  • Poems must be submitted as a pdf or Word document.
  • Identifying information such as name, grade level and age should not appear on the poem itself.
  • All entries must be the original work of the young person submitting the poem. Chicago Collections Consortium has a no-tolerance policy for plagiarism.
  • After writing the poem, submit it at the CCC contest page, where you can also find more details about the competition.