The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

The student newspaper of Bucks County Community College

The Centurion

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Calling All Poets: Original Works To Be Recognized in Bucks Poetry Competition


Bucks County Community College, which has been nurturing writers in the region for many years, is calling upon all local high school students to enter its 35th annual Bucks County High School Poet of the Year competition to be in for a chance of winning $300.

The competition is open to freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors who live in Bucks County or attend a Bucks County high school.  Home-schooled students are also eligible to apply.

Previous winners of the competition are not eligible, but students who have entered before, including finalists, are welcome “to try again,” says Dr. Ethel Rackin, Director of the Bucks County Poet Laureate Program, which also runs the high school competition.

Rackin goes on to say, “We always encourage students to submit again if they’re still in high school.”

The competition has been doing “particularly well in the past several years,” says Rackin, where they have been, “averaging around 150 submissions.” The program is very much looking forward to this year’s entries, which should be submitted by Friday, March 11 2022.

Students submit three original poems and are judged on the merit of the three poems combined.  “We are looking at all three,” says Rackin.

Last year, due to the pandemic, the competition switched to an online entry system, which may have been “quite a bit easier, especially for young people,” admits Rackin. However, this could not have been the sole reason for the quality and quantity of submissions.

“Not only did we get more applicants than ever, but it was the strongest batch that I’ve seen.”

Young people seeing and hearing the National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, during President Biden’s inauguration last year “had a tremendous effect and we saw the results,” enthuses Rackin.

Those who submitted entries last year did not shy away from the big stories of the day and were writing about serious issues.

“Many of the poems that we received last year did touch on the pandemic; on climate change; on the divisions: the political divisions in our country,” says Rackin.

The Poet Laureate Program published a book “Fire Up the Poems” last year and distributed it for free to all Bucks County schools. The idea is to help teachers engage students in poetry and to introduce poetry into the school curriculum.

“We purposely sent this out to all the teachers in advance of the deadline last year hoping that they would be able to use some of these prompts right away in their classrooms,’ says Rackin.  “We saw that some of the students did use the prompts from this text, and to great effect.  So, we were very pleased to see an immediate result of this book publication.”

This year’s competition is now open.  In addition to the $300 winning prize money, the winner receives a Proclamation from County Commissioners. The winner and runners-up will also have a public performance.  The two judges are the current Bucks County Poet Laureate, Nicole Steinberg, and the previous year’s Poet Laureate, Jane Edna Mohler.

The deadline for entries is Friday, March 11, 2022. Students should submit their information and three original poems online at

Further questions can be emailed to Dr. Ethel Rackin: [email protected]