Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site & Interpretive Center

246 Old Walt Whitman Road, Huntington Station, NY 11746

phone: 631-427-5240 || fax: 631-427-5247






Theme Announcement & Contest Guidelines








Theme:          A SONG OF JOYS




Contest: Write a poem about singing
















O to make the most jubilant song!




Full of music—full of manhood, womanhood, infancy!




Full of common employments—full of grain and trees.








O for the voices of animals—O for the swiftness and balance of fishes!




O for the dropping of raindrops in a song!




O for the sunshine and motion of waves in a song!








O the joy of my spirit—it is uncaged—it darts like lightning!




It is not enough to have this globe or a certain time,




I will have thousands of globes and all time.


— Walt Whitman                  (1860, 1881)






This year the theme is a musical one.  It is about singing.  You might decide to read the rest of this poem.  It is a long one.  You will be inspired by Whitman’s many examples of people, places and things to use as ideas for your poem, your own song of joy.  A few more examples from the on-going poem:






O the gleesome saunter over fields and hillsides!

The leaves and flowers of the commonest weeds, the moist fresh stillness of the woods,






And through the orchard and along the old lanes once more.








O to have been brought up on bays, lagoons, creeks, or along the coast,




In order to write this poem, you will need to think of the things of this world that make you joyful.  Look and listen to those around you. Like Whitman, consider the many people, places, activities, etc. in your everyday life.








Use Whitman’s technique of detailed descriptions and use of the senses to compose your poem.  Include some or all of your senses: see, smell, taste, touch, hear.  Remember to use images, similes and metaphors to show us your ideas.  Your poem should employ a longer line, like those of Whitman.  Search for unusual words and craft them into poetics of sounds, repeating letters for alliteration and vowels for assonance.  Try to avoid end rhymes, although slant or internal rhymes may be used.








With this swirl of involvement and observation, your writing will capture a world in itself.







Good luck!



















The Walt Whitman Birthplace Association maintains and operates the Walt Whitman Birthplace, home of America’s greatest poet.  All contestants and poetry lovers are encouraged to visit the Birthplace.  School groups may participate in a variety of unique educational programs.
















ELIGIBILITY: Students in grades 3-12











Category A – Individual poem, grades 3-4                                            Category G – Class anthology, grades 5-6








Category B – Individual poem, grades 5-6                                            Category H – Class anthology, grades 7-8








Category C – Individual poem, grades 7-8                                            Category   I – Class anthology, grades 9-10








Category D – Individual poem, grades 9-10                                          Category   J – Class anthology, grades 11-12








Category E – Individual poem, grades 11-12                                        Category  K – Multi-media








Category F – Class anthology, grades 3-4                                             Category  L – Individual anthology












1. Type or print any length poem up to 2 pages.







2. Individual poems MUST have the following information on EACH page or poems may be disqualified:




poem title and entrance category




entrant’s name, complete address, home phone number, age and grade level




school name, complete address, school phone number, and teacher’s name




for multiple entries by a teacher: poems must be noted by grade AND class period







3. Class anthology MUST have the following information or anthologies may be disqualified:




anthology title




title sheet with the entrance category, teacher’s name, grade, school name, school phone number and complete address




the student’s name on each poem; student may enter a poem in an anthology and as an individual poem




all poems should be in binder or book form




for multiple entries by a teacher: anthologies must be noted by grade AND class period












Entries must be postmarked by MARCH 14, 2014












♢ Winners notified by mail in mid-May.




♢ Awards ceremony: Sunday, June 1, 2014.




♢ Awards distributed at the annual Walt Whitman Birthday Celebration held at the Walt Whitman Birthplace.  This is Walt’s 195TH birthday.




♢ First, Second, Third and Honorable Mention Awards will be given in each category.




♢ First place poems will be posted on the Walt Whitman Birthplace Association website.




♢ Individual entries will NOT be returned.




♢ To obtain a list of winners send self-addressed business envelope with two first class stamps.




♢ Awards held for pickup at the Walt Whitman Birthplace until July 9, 2014.  They will not be mailed.




♢ Winning and non-winning anthologies will be held for pickup until July 9, 2014.  They will not be mailed.








All submissions become the property of the Walt Whitman Birthplace and may be published online or in print.

The poems are judged by a panel of published poets selected by the Birthplace Trustees.








MAILING INSTRUCTIONS: POETRY CONTEST  –  Carolyn Diglio, Education Coordinator




Walt Whitman Birthplace Association




246 Old Walt Whitman Road




Huntington Station, NY  11746-4148




(for additional information contact Carolyn at (631) 427-5240, ext. 113)

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