Every year, in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book, River of Words sponsors a free international poetry and art contest on the theme of watersheds. The contest is open to students ages 5 through 19 anywhere in the world. Deaf students may submit poems in American Sign Language on DVDs. Entries are accepted throughout the year. (Enter now!)
Since we launched it in 1996, the ROW contest has become the largest international youth poetry and art competition in the world, attracting entries from classrooms, 4-H clubs, scout troops, wildlife clubs, refugee camps, summer camps, after-school programs, juvenile detention, and students submitting on their own.
From tens of thousands of entries, our judges—former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Hass, ROW co-founder Pamela Michael, ASL poet Ella Mae Lentz, DEAF Media Executive Director Susan Rutherford, and noted children’s book illustrator Thacher Hurd—select about 100 poems and artworks as finalists. Winners are announced each April at a ceremony at the San Francisco Main Library. Grand Prize and international winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the awards ceremony at the Library of Congress.