Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition

About the Annual Kent County Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition

The Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition was started in 1968 by poet James Allen at the urging of John Hunting, the founder of the Dyer-Ives Foundation, to encourage excellence in writing and to provide recognition for local work of high quality. The annual contest is open to poets ages 5 through adult who reside in Kent County. Submissions are accepted every February and winners are selected in the spring. Winners selected in three age categories have their poems published in Voices, receive a cash award, and participate in a reading during the Festival of the Arts in June, held at the Main Library.


Funded by:

2017 National Judge Oliver de la Paz

Oliver de la Paz is the author of three collections of poetry, Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby (SIU Press 2001, 2007), and Requiem for the Orchard (U. of Akron Press 2010), winner of the Akron Prize for poetry chosen by Martìn Espada. He co-chairs the advisory board of Kundiman, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the promotion of Asian American Poetry. A recipient of a NYFA Fellowship Award and a GAP Grant from Artist Trust, his work has appeared in journals like The Southern Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, North American Review, Tin House, Chattahoochee Review, and in anthologies such as Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation. He teaches at Western Washington University.

Divisions and Awards

First Division – Kindergarten through Eighth Grade
1st Place: $100
2nd Place: $75
3rd Place: $50

Second Division – High School through Undergraduate
1st Place: $125
2nd Place: $100
3rd Place: $75

Third Division – Graduate Student through Adult
1st Place: $150
2nd Place: $125
3rd Place: $100

2017 Winners

The Grand Rapids Public Library would like to congratulate everyone who entered the Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition this year. With over 400 entries, the competition was fierce. The five judges agonized over the decision of which poems would bring home the prize this year. The judges were struck by how many excellent poems were submitted this year.

The winners of the 2017 Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition are:

Elementary Division

First Place:
Marie Milzarski for her poem, “Eve”

Second Place:
Qyliyah Lee for her poem, “Black Women Are Our Guardians”

Third Place:
Willa Moore for her poem, “I Am”

Honorable Mention:
Ja’Nesha Winters for her poem, “This is Who I Am”
Annie Norman for her poem, “The Way I Travel Through Time”

Student Division

First Place:
Anne Livingston for her poem, “When I took my sister to the dentist I forgot she wasn’t my daughter”

Second Place:
Alex Cersosimo for his poem, “Two Lonely Milkshakes in an Abandoned Lot”

Third Place:
Sierra Nakano for her poem, “I Was Fat in Japan Too, Jessie Carty”

Honorable Mention:
Jared Stevenson for his poem, “Fecundity”
Margo Skornia for her poem, “I have read one Mary Oliver poem too many and they have finally gone to my head”

Adult Division

First Place:
Z.G. Tomaszewski for his poem, “Early Magic”

Second Place:
Anne Keller for her poem, “Splinter”

Third Place:
Marjorie Steele for her poem, “all this has happened before, and all of it will happen again”

Honorable Mention:
Mary Balkon for her poem, “A Song for Anubis”
Kate Mosher for her poem, “Heart and Lung”

We want to give a shout out to the teachers and students who submitted poems this year. Keep writing poetry! Every year, the poems get better and better!

Voices Publication

Voices is published annually to highlight the winners of the Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition.


If you have questions about the competition, email us or call 616.988.5400.