Student poets invited to compete in Live Loud Youth Poetry Contest

By Elisabeth Slay The Shawnee News-Star eslay@news-star.com

Young poets throughout Shawnee are invited to submit pieces for the Live Loud Youth Poetry Contest, which is now accepting poem submissions from students in fourth through 12th grades.

According to Brent Newsom, Division of Language and Literature Chair at Oklahoma Baptist University, poets are allowed to send one poem each to the contest.

“The Live Loud Youth Poetry Contest encourages young people, grades four to 12, to write poetry as a form of self-expression that builds essential literacy skills and creativity,” Newsom said.

He explained the contest initially began with the support of Aline Spurr in 2019 in memory of Jim Spurr a longtime Shawnee resident who was a poet that encouraged others through a monthly open mic gathering he started which has continued for over 30 years.

“Jim often concluded these gatherings with his motto, ‘live loud,’ which gives the contest its name,” Newsom said. “The contest is planned to coincide with National Poetry Month, which is April, and will culminate in a public celebration at the Shawnee Public Library on Sunday, May 1, at 2:00 pm”

Contest winners will be announced at the celebration in three categories including fourth through sixth grades, seventh through ninth grades and tenth through twelfth grades.

“There will also be a Jim Spurr Award for the best poem overall. Cash prizes will be given to the winners, thanks to the support of the Friends of the Shawnee Public Library,” Newsom said.

As a poet himself, Newsom explained poetry is an art form easy enough for most people to attempt but challenging enough for few people to master.

“Encouraging young writers sends the message that their voices, their experiences and their ideas matter,” Newsom said. “Like other art forms, writing poetry engages the imagination, cultivates creativity and provides an outlet for adolescents to explore new thoughts and feelings; Unlike other arts, however, you don’t need any materials except a paper and a pen.”

When choosing winning submissions, Newsom said judges will be looking for “original language, clear images and the poet’s fulfillment of the poem’s thematic potential.”

Poems of all kinds over any subject matter may be entered in the contest.

For Newsom the best aspect of being apart of this competition is seeing student writers get excited about the power of words.

“It’s always gratifying to see young poets sharing their work,” Newsom said.

Newsom would like to thank the Friends of Shawnee Public Library for sponsoring the event and the support of the Shawnee Library staff which is led by Branch Manager Peggy Cook.

Students must submit one poem no longer than one page and their name won’t go on the poem itself but rather the submission form which can be delivered to the children’s desk at the Shawnee Public Library or at https://forms.gle/6YvjvNz2iWipcSUs8 .

All entries must be submitted by 5 pm on April 22.

Check back for updates.

“The Live Loud Youth Poetry Contest encourages young people, grades four to 12, to write poetry as a form of self-expression that builds essential literacy skills and creativity.”

–Brent Newson

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