July 16, 2024

Pulitzer Center Fighting Words Poetry Contest 2021 for K-12 Students

Deadline: May 15, 2021

Applications are open for the Pulitzer Center Fighting Words Poetry Contest 2021. How can poetry be an effective response to current events and under-reported stories? How can we use poetry to connect global issues to our local and personal contexts? Students are invited to explore these questions and make their voices heard in their entries to the Fighting Words Poetry Contest.

The Pulitzer Center raises awareness of underreported global issues through direct support for quality journalism across all media platforms and a unique program of education and public outreach. Founded in 2006, they are now the largest single source of money for global enterprise reporting—and the only one incorporating this reporting into comprehensive educational programs that extend the impact of the reporting and allow students and the public to engage directly on the issues. The result is sustained reporting and outreach on topics that range from land rights, climate change, global health, and fragile states to justice and women and children.


  • 1st place: $100, publication on the Pulitzer Center website.
  • 2nd place: $50, publication on the Pulitzer Center website.
  • 3rd place: $25, publication on the Pulitzer Center website.
  • Finalists: Publication on the Pulitzer Center website.


  • Any current K-12 student in the United States or internationally may enter.
  • Students may write in any language, and are welcome to submit multilingual poems. Judges will have reading fluency in English and Spanish.

Judging Criteria

Poems will be judged by the following criteria:

  • Success of the poem on its own terms (craft, linguistic style, emotion, etc.)
  • Successful inclusion of lines quoted from a Pulitzer Center story.


Go to the Pulitzer Center website and select a story. Write a poem of any form and length that includes lines from the story. Use “With lines from “STORY TITLE” by JOURNALIST NAME, a Pulitzer Center reporting project” as your epigraph.

The form will ask for some basic information, and you will upload your poem to the form as an attachment. You may also upload an audio or video file of yourself performing your poem; this file is optional, but the text file is required.

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