Society of Classical Poets 2016 Competition Guidelines (Closed)

(See details for Hudson Valley, New York Competition below*)

-Submit three to five poems, each of which does not exceed 50 lines.
-Please indicate if you are in high school so that you can qualify for the high school prize.
-The poems must be within the four themes used by the Society (at least one poem must be in the Falun Dafa theme or about the plight of the Chinese people under communism in general):

  1. Beautiful & Sublime: Beauty in human nature, culture, the natural world, classical art forms, and the divine.
  2. Humor & Riddles: Clean humor only please.
  3. The Issues of Our Age: (A) China may very well be the civil rights crisis of our era. As our two economies become enmeshed, people there still face the kinds of systematic persecution that were faced by African Americans, Jewish people, and Native Americans many decades ago. The persecution of the peaceful meditation practice  Falun Dafa (aka Falun Gong) is emblematic of the plight of the Chinese people under the Communism Party. (B) Terrorists plague the world like a hate-filled cancer that does not seem to go away. (C) Though debate remains over climate change, environmental pollution and genetic modification obviously compromises our water, food, and air.
  4. Great Culture: Good figures, stories, and other elements from classical (pre-1900) history and literature.

-Email to
-Metered and rhymed poetry is preferred but not required. (We usually do not publish love poems, free verse, or overly dark poems that don’t teach a positive lesson.)
-Poems are judged based on both form and character.
-Put “Poetry Competition Submission” in the subject line of the email.
-The poem should ideally be written in 2014, but does not have to be. It is okay if you have submitted it to other contests or posted it on your blog.
-If you want feedback and criticism on your poetry please provide some indication such as: “feedback/criticism appreciated.”
-There is no submission fee or age requirement.
-Include a brief bio not exceeding 100 words.
-We note that you will retain ownership of your poetry. By submitting it to the Society for publication or for inclusion in the contest, you give the Society the rights to publish it online on this website and/or in a Society of Classical Poets journal with other poetry, but we would not be able to sell your individual poem on its own or have any further rights over it beyond those two forums. You could publish it anywhere else or sell it to any publication as desired.
-The competition is judged by Evan Mantyk, President of the Society.
-You do not have to be a member of the Society to participate.
-Exemplary submissions may be posted to the Society’s website.

Submission deadline for competition: December 31, 2015

Winners announced: February 1, 2016

First Prize: $500.
Second Prize: Free copy of 2016 Journal
Third Prize: Free copy of 2016 Journal
Fourth Prize: Free copy of 2016 Journal
High School Prize: Free copy of 2016 Journal
Essay or Short Story Prize: Free copy of 2016 Journal

Hudson Valley, New York Poetry Prize: $100
*All the standard rules and guidelines above apply, but only residents of the Hudson Valley, New York (Orange, Sullivan, Ulster, Rockland, Duchess, and Putnam counties) can qualify. Any submissions for the Hudson Valley Prize automatically compete for the general prize as well. If you want to qualify for the Hudson Valley prize, please indicate so in your submission and include your address.

Featured Image: Ptolemy II Philadelphus is shown conversing with scholars in the library of Alexandria in this 1813 work by the Italian neo-classicist painter Vincenzo Camuccini (1771-1844).


2015 Winners

First Prize ($500): Reid McGrath
Winning Poems: “Tares in the Wheat” “A Recurring Dream, Vanquished” “Retreating Snow” “Lamenting Our Complicity in the Installation of Suicide Nets” “Three Trojan Perspectives”

Second Prize ($100): James Sale
Winning Poems: “Apollo Builds Troy with His Lyre” “The Commissars Oppose Falun Gong” “Noah Survives Cancer”

Third Prize ($100): Mike Ruskovich
Winning Poems: “The Greatest Wall of China” “The River Wye” “Nuclear Thinking” “Interpretation”

Fourth Prize ($100): Bruce Dale Wise
Winning Poems: “A Father’s Poem” “610 Office” “A Guy Flopped Out upon a Tile Floor” “The Little Kindnesses” “I Saw a Giant Train”

High School Prize ($100): Darlene Wolenski
“A Battle of Good versus Evil Part I” “A Battle of Good versus Evil Part II” “A Battle of Good versus Evil Part III”

High School Prize ($100): Abigail Zhong
“My Friend” “The Shore” “Icarus Rising”

Honorable Mentions:

Ron L. Hodges
“Shadow of the Laogai” “A Plea to Scylla” “Adrift in the Sea”

Ellen Lou
“Just a Dream Part I” “Just a Dream Part II” “Just a Dream Part III” “An Ode to New Beginnings”


2014 Winners

First Place: Bruce Dale Wise (Prize: $500)
Second Place: Damian Robin
Third Place: Reid McGrath
Honorable Mention: Betsy M. Hughes
Honorable Mention: Michael Curtis
High School Winner: Gloria Li
Best Essay: Leland James

A sincere congratulations to the above winners, to all of the finalists (who will be featured in the upcoming Journal), and to the hundreds of poets who participated!  Below are the winning submissions.



2013 Winners

Winner of $1,000 Prize:

Alan Nordstrom

Honorable Mentions:

Leland James

James Ph. Kotsybar

Damian Robin

Keith Robinson


Kind Regards,

Evan Mantyk
President of the Society



NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

CODEC Stories:

17 Responses

  1. Janice Canerdy

    I was wondering when the 2015 print journal will be available. Thanks

    Janice Canerdy

  2. Ben Zwycky

    The title says 2016 competition, but the rules below seems to be from the 2015 competition. Are the rules the same this year, or has someone forgotten to update them?

      • Ben Zwycky

        I self-pubbed a poetry collection this year, and sold about 20 copies to friends and family, would I be able to submit poems from there? Judging from an answer to a previous question (that you can enter poems and then include them in your own collection later), I would assume so, but it’s best to make sure.

  3. Zahra

    Can high schoolers only win high schoo prize?
    Does the poem have to consist of the falun gong/chinese communism topic?

    • The Society

      High Schoolers can theoretically win top prize. One poem has to be on that topic. Three to five poems are required in total. Hope this helps!

  4. Janice Canerdy

    May I presume that the rule requiring at least one poem on the Falun Dafa theme
    applies only to category 3? I really want to enter in another category. I should have asked this question earlier!


    Janice Canerdy

    • The Society

      Hi Janice,

      For the competition, one poem must be in the theme of the persecution of Falun Dafa in China (or the plight of the Chinese people under communism in general) in order to qualify. The idea here is that poetry is equipped to deal with the biggest and most pressing issues of our day. If you take a look at the world as a whole, you’ll find that China is more or less like an inner city and the U.S. like a rich suburb of that city. Religious freedom and basic First Amendment freedoms, the very cornerstone of America and the West, are at risk everyday in a place that is our “trading partner.”

      Feel free to email me at

      Evan Mantyk

  5. smg

    Are you allowed to enter one poem only, or two, neither of which is on the subject of the plight in China? Are three poems the minimum? I just came across this site and since the deadline is looming it will be hard to come up with a China-themed poem so quickly. But then, I do like a challenge. Thanks

    • The Society

      You need at least three poems, as many as five poems. One poem on the plight of Falun Gong or the Chinese people under communism. The poems should all be submitted together in one email ideally.

      I hope this helps!

  6. Howard Savage

    Don’t let your imagination control your mind,
    and walk through life if though you were blind.
    You get up head-strong, brandishing your refined
    vocation, failing to realize, you are being deceived,
    by your own extensive imagination. Life can only be
    improved, through time and season, therefore, we
    must prepare our minds with logic reason.
    Search your mind, out and in, search twice, and
    then again. If you find, you have a modest education,
    don’t allow yourself to be controlled, by your
    prodigious imagination. For the accomplishments, and
    the things you have, you played a vital part, but never
    take all of the adoration, for if you do, time will reveal,
    you’ll been a victim, of your own imagination

    Howard Savage


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