Let Students See Their Poems in Print

“Lyrical Iowa” editor Marilyn Baszczynski explains how students benefit from submitting poems the IPA’s annual competition.


Allison Berryhill

Student poets participate in weekly Creative Writing Club at Atlantic High School, 2019.

Marilyn Baszczynski, Guest Contributor

Since its inception in 1945, the Iowa Poetry Association has hosted an annual Lyrical Iowa Poetry competition, an opportunity for Iowans of all ages to submit their creative works for recognition through publication in our anthology, Lyrical Iowa, as well as prizes and public presentation opportunities.  An important component of this competition is the ‘Student Division’, that invites submissions from each of college, high school, upper grade (5-8) and lower grade (K-4) students. Our editors for this Division include in-state educators supported by expert out-of-state judges.  This past year we had 658 entries with 57 poems published in the Student Division of our 75th Anniversary Edition of Lyrical Iowa.

In addition, IPA holds an annual Student Poetry Reading Celebration for all students whose poem was published in Lyrical Iowa. The event typically occurs in June at the State Historical Building; however, for this year, we will host readings on Facebook later in the fall, and hopefully will resume in person again next year. It’s fun and inspiring to watch the students’ excitement in performing their poetry, to the applause of family and friends. At the celebration, we also announce Iowa winners of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies student contests; IPA always advances some winners and high-ranking poems from our student submissions into the national competitions. 

I enjoy corresponding with teachers whose students have entered our contests, and some of you have shared ways for IPA to better communicate about opportunities for students. We are moving to more digital formats and online access to our contest guidelines. In addition we are adding a Teacher Resources page to our website with ideas for assignments and plans for you to more easily incorporate creative poetry writing into your already very busy schedules. These resources will be posted on our website at www.iowapoetry.com

At this time all high school and grade school submissions must still be mailed, but need not be sent in by the teacher; students or parents may submit them directly. The contest is open Jan. 1 through Feb. 28. See details in the attached contest brochure or online at www.iowapoetry.com/rules2021.htm

The Iowa Poetry Association is a non-profit organization whose sole objective is to promote interest in and appreciation of poetry among Iowans through educational opportunities, poetry writing contests and the publication of an annual anthology of Iowa poetry. Besides sponsoring an annual contest, IPA offers two workshops each year, held in Des Moines and plans to add monthly virtual mini-workshops in 2021. Membership is open to any individual or group with an Iowa address. Annual dues are $8.00. Patron dues of $15 or more provide the same benefits and additionally help support the expanding programs of the organization (increased outreach, scholarships, etc.). 

Contests are open to all persons with Iowa residence (or students attending school in Iowa). No entry fee. No membership or book purchase required.  Indeed, if you feel inspired or creative, consider submitting your own poems!

Questions? Email me at [email protected].  I look forward to reading your students’ poems!

Thank you.

Marilyn Baszczynski

Editor, Iowa Poetry Association



[email protected]