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:

2018 National Judge Azizi Jasper


Author, community organizer, and cultural advocate, Azizi Jasper is a dynamic performer and a passionate advocate for social justice. He has shared the stage along-side a who’s who of influencers including rapper/actor Common, the great poet Gil Scott Heron, Grammy winner Marvin Sapp, Detroit super-group Slum Village, renowned poet Saul Williams, and Min. Louis Farrakhan to name a few. His presentations are lively, powerful, and thought provoking. Jasper gave the keynote at the Grand Rapids Rosa Parks statue dedication, as well as recently dedicating a poem to Detroit Superproducer J-Dilla’s mother during the 5th annual Dilla Day at The Filmore.

Jasper has been featured alongside former Grand Rapids poet laureates in the acclaimed compilation Song of the Owashtanong. He is the founder of several open mic’s in his native Grand Rapids, including the longest running spoken word open mic in West Michigan, Smokin Spoken Word. Jasper is one of the founding members of the poetry collective The Diatribe. He was one of the hosts of the largest weekly open mic set in Detroit (The Retort), and also curates a Thursday night show that showcases worldwide talent in his adopted home of Detroit at the world famous Nandi’s Knowledge Cafe.

During the day, Azizi also works in Detroit as a social worker for Wayne County’s Right Track Program helping teens 13-17 navigate through troubling circumstances. He is also a  political organizer having assisted on more than 30 regional campaigns, and is the curator of over 50 community-based. “I enjoy writing about the troubles of my generation” said Jasper, “but not nearly as much as I like working to change them”.

Guidelines for Submitting a Poem

  • Open to Kent County, Michigan residents of all ages.
  • Open to students attending classes within Kent County including GVSU and KISD.
  • Submissions accepted February 1 – March 1, 2018.
  • Free to enter.
  • One poem per person will be accepted. The poem must be original and unpublished.

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

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.

To Submit a Poem by Mail

  1. Poem must be typed.
  2. Name should not appear on the poem
  3. On a separate piece of paper, include:

Division Category
Title of the poem
School attending (if applicable)

If you want a receipt for your poem, enclose a sufficiently stamped Self-Addressed Envelope (SASE).

5. Mail entries to:

Grand Rapids Public Library
Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition
(Specify appropriate division)
111 Library St NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49503


To Submit a Poem by Email

  1. Name should not appear on poem
  2. In the subject line, state division category
  3. In the body of the email, include the following information:

Division Category
Title of the poem
School attending (if applicable)

Attach files in one of the following formats: .rtf (rich text) or .doc / .docx (a Word file)

Email poem to dyer-ives@grpl.org

Instructions For Teachers Submitting Student Poems

  1. Teachers can mail multiple students’ poems in one big envelope.
  2. Make sure the student’s name does not appear on the poem.
  3. Staple a separate piece of paper to each entry with the following information:

Division Category
Student name
Home address
Phone (for parent if appropriate)
E-mail (for parent if appropriate)
Title of poem
School attending

Students may also submit their poems following the on-line instructions.