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Seeking Poets with ’Courage to Create’

WMU Annual Poetry Contest Honors MLK

Middle school and high school writers are encouraged to explore themes of social justice in the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Courage to Create Poetry Competition. The event is held in conjunction with the MLK Day Celebration at Western Michigan University.

King said, “Our lives begin to end when we become silent about things that matter.”

Poems may be written in any style and should incorporate themes of social justice. Past winners have written about racial equity, socio-economic challenges, gender stereotypes, and other topics.

Winning poets will be invited to public reading of their poems and awards ceremony on Feb. 19 at Western Michigan University. The poets will read along with invited, local celebrity poets and a keynote speaker. The project is a collaboration between Kalamazoo Public Schools, Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo, the WMU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and Friends of Poetry.

The poets may be interviewed and their poetry may be used in a promotional capacity and featured in local media outlets and in programming by Public Media Network.


1. Poems may be submitted in any style.

2. Poems should reflect on social justice in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy.

3. The contest is open to students in grades 6-12.

4. Poems will not be returned. Writers should not submit their only copy.

5. Poets may submit more than one poem. Each poem should be submitted on a separate page. The author’s full name should be placed at the top of the page, along with his or her grade, school, and email address or phone number.

6. All poems will be reviewed anonymously by a group of distinguished community poets.

7. All poems must be submitted to the online submission portal at

8. Deadline for submissions is Jan. 21, 2020.

For more information, contact William Craft, director of information technology, WMU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, (269) 387-6328 or

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