Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition

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 or attend school in Kent County.

Submissions are accepted every February, and winners are selected in the spring. Winners selected in different categories have their poems published in Voices, receive a cash award, and participate in the annual Awards Reading Ceremony during Festival of the Arts in June.

Submissions accepted February 1 - 28, 2023.


2023 National Judge

Kelly Grace Thomas is a poet, editor, educator, and an ocean-obsessed Aries from Jersey. Her first full-length collection, Boat Burned, was released with YesYes Books in January 2020. She is the winner of the 2020 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize and the 2017 Neil Postman Award for Metaphor, a finalist for the 2018 Rita Dove Poetry Award, a semifinalist for the 2021 Nimrod Poetry Award, and a multiple-time Pushcart Prize nominee.

Kelly’s poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Best New Poets, 32 Poems, Los Angeles Review, Muzzle, Sixth Finch, and more; she has received fellowships from the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing and the Kenyon Review Young Writers’ Workshop. She is currently a MFA candidate and Blackburn Fellow at Randolph College.

Kelly works as curriculum consultant for Get Lit-Words Ignite and other nonprofits. She is co-author of the Literary Riot books Voices in Verse: Poetry, Identity and Ethnic Studies; Stanzas of America: Celebrating BIPOC Poetry; and Words Ignite: Explore, Write and Perform Classic and Spoken Word Poetry, which are currently taught in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She lives in the Bay Area with her husband, daughter, and sister.

Divisions and Awards

Elementary School
Grades K – 2
1st Place: $25 & publication
2nd Place: $10 & publication

Grades 3 – 4
1st Place: $25 & publication
2nd Place: $10 & publication

Middle School
Grades 5 – 6
1st Place: $50 & publication
2nd Place: $20 & publication

Grades 7 – 8
1st Place: $50 & publication
2nd Place: $20 & publication

High School
Grades 9 – 10
1st Place: $75 & publication
2nd Place: $25 & publication

Grades 11 – 12
1st Place: $100 & publication
2nd Place: $50 & publication

1st Place: $100 & publication
2nd Place: $75 & publication
3rd Place: $50 & publication

1st Place: $150 & publication
2nd Place: $125 & publication
3rd Place: $100 & publication

Voices Publication

Voices is published annually to highlight the winners of the Dyer-Ives Poetry Competition. View the 2022 Voices publication.


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


  • Open to Kent County, MI residents of all ages. 
  • Open to students attending classes within Kent County, MI, including at GVSU. 
  • Open to students who are residents of Kent County but attend school elsewhere.
  • Free to enter.
  • One poem per person will be accepted. The poem must be original and unpublished.

Submission Guidelines

  • Submissions accepted February 1-28, 2023
  • Submit one unpublished poem via our Submittable portal (available in February).
  • Note that your name should not appear anywhere on the uploaded document.
  • Poems in languages other than English are accepted for consideration with inclusion of an English translation.
  • Winners will be notified by the beginning of May 2023.

Teacher's Guide

  • Coming soon


Special thanks to the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation — Dyer-Ives Foundation Poetry Fund for their support of this program.

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