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Iowa Poetry Association contest now taking entries

DES MOINES — If you are a poet and want everyone to know it, the annual Iowa Poetry Association Lyrical Iowa Poetry Contest is now taking entries.

Lyrical Iowa editor Marilyn Baszczynski says there are categories for kids and adults. She says the one thing they specify in the rules is “no vulgarity.”

“It is free for everyone with an Iowa residence. And it is for kindergartners all the way on up through to centenarians. And we have a number of categories for the adult contests and all of the students have their own division that they can enter in,” she says.

Judges will pick the winners in each category. “In the adult division, we have seven categories. So, there is general, sonnet, haiku, poetry for children, poems about the pandemic, and there is a separate judge and they are all from out-of-state,” Baszczynski says.

The student categories are split into divisions, K-4th grade, fifth-eighth grade, high school, and college. The contest started in 1945 and there are some cash prizes, along with the chance to be published in the annual anthology of Iowa poetry.

“We can get around 2,000 — sometimes more, sometimes a little less — entries that will come in. And out of that we will publish over 300, just depending on what we receive in, we take only publish the best,” according to Baszczynski. “But usually over 300 will be published. And we only allow one poem from each author to be published in the anthology each year.”

Baszczynski says the general category usually has the most entries — but she expects to see a lot in the pandemic category this year. “And that’s really okay. This anthology is all about what Iowans are writing about and we really do reach out to everyone to send us their work. To tell us about their journeys, their feeling, what’s happening throughout the year,” Baszczynski says. “And the great thing about this anthology and contest is all of those who love poetry and love writing, and have nowhere to express themselves may find a home for their poetry in our anthology.”

The deadline to enter is February 28th. You can find the rules online at

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