Writing Poetry

Writing Poetry

The how, what, and why!

Writing and reading poetry offers amazing benefits, so it might surprise you to learn that the Pennsylvania State Education Department does not require children to learn anything at all about poetry. That means young people need to search for poetry on their own or be introduced to it by someone willing to explore poetry with them.

York County Libraries values the importance of our youth having access to the wonderful world of poetry! That’s why we’ve held an annual poetry-writing contest for 35 years for youth in grades 1-12. If you have an aspiring poet in your home, encourage them to submit a poem for our 35th Annual Poetry Competition. The submission form is open now!

How to write poetry!

Check out the infographic below to get started with writing poetry! One of the steps is to learn about different forms of poetry. Below the infographic are some resources to help jump-start your learning… and possibly spark your creativity!

COP 2024 infographic by YCL Youth Services & Centralized

Image: photo of a girl sitting in a library writing on paper with a pen.
(Image: https://nationaltoday.com/national-day-on-writing/)

What is poetry?

Poetry is defined in a number of ways. The Merriam-Webster definition includes:

Synonyms of poetry
1a: metrical writing : VERSE
b: the productions of a poet : POEMS
2: writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm
3a: something likened to poetry, especially in beauty of expression
3b: poetic quality or aspect (the poetry of dance)

Some of the key terms that describe poetry include: poetry is metrical (there’s a rhythm!), imaginative awareness (get creative!), emotional response (speak from the heart!), and beauty (what’s beautiful? You decide!).  Many of these terms also describe the creation of art. So we can say, “Poetry is art made of words with various forms, inspirations and meanings.” 

Image of craggy hills with the text, "A poet is, before anything else, a person who is passionately in love with language. W.H. Auden" from BrainyQuote
Image from brainyquote.com

Why is poetry important?

Poetry is a significant outlet for people of all ages to create, to have an opportunity for emotional expression, and to experiment with language.

Young people can benefit by building an increased vocabulary, a deeper engagement with reading and writing, and connecting more fully to others.

In 2022, the National Literacy Trust in the UK conducted a study that evaluated 60,000 children between 8-18 years old. This report found:

    • 3 in 10 youth read poetry in their free time in 2022.
    • 1 in 2 youth that read poetry also write poetry in their free time. 

There are many reasons that youth write poetry. These include:

    • to express creativity
    • to relax
    • to feel connected to others
    • to support others

Enter now!

York County Libraries welcomes original poems written by children in grades 1-12 who live or attend school in York County or Adams County, PA. Poems must be the original student’s work; no computer-generated or AI-assisted entries, please. Full entry guidelines and information, as well as the online entry form, are all available on our A Celebration of Poetry website. Good luck!