Poetry-writing initiative for Mississippi K-12 students launching this fall

The My Town Mississippi Poetry Project is a statewide poetry initiative created by Mississippi Poet Laureate Catherine Pierce. All K-12 students across Mississippi are invited to participate. During the fall, students will be asked to write a poem in response to the below prompt. By December 1, each participating school will select three winning poems per grade, which will be sent on to a statewide competition. All schoolwide winners will be invited to attend the Mississippi Young Writers Poetry Festival, to be held in April 2023 on the Mississippi State campus in Starkville, and will have their winning poems published in the festival anthology.

  1. During the fall, students will write poems using the following prompt:

Poems are like windows—even a small one can show us the world. Where do you live? What details could you give a stranger to help them picture your town and understand what it’s like to live there? For this project, Mississippi students across the state will write “list poems” about their towns. A list poem is just what it sounds like—by listing details about where you live, you’ll create a vivid picture of that place. Start off with the line “My town is” or “[Town name] is,” and go from there.

There is no minimum line length; poems should not be more than two pages.

  1. By December 1, schools will select three winning poems per each grade. There is no official contest rubric, but judges (selected by each school) should consider the poem’s use of specific detail, attention to the senses, and overall creativity/originality. Each of these schoolwide winners will be invited to the Mississippi Young Writers Poetry Festival in April 2023.

Winning poems should be emailed to mspoetryproject@gmail.com by December 1. Please include grade, student name, and name of school for each poem.

  1. The winning poems from each school will be entered into the statewide poetry contest. Statewide winners will be announced by February 1, 2023, and, in addition to being published in the festival anthology, will be invited to give a reading of their work at the festival in April.

For more information, including poetry-writing tips to share with students, a sample poem, and suggestions for ways to celebrate and share students’ work, see the PDF below or visit mspoetryproject.com.

Resources for Teachers