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HSLDA Poetry Contest

2011 Guidelines

Submission Dates: May 1 through June 1 2011!

Entry Form

Photo Contest

Click image above to download ( requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Poetry Contest Archives
2010   2009
2008   2007
2006   2005

Entries received before May 1 or postmarked after June 1 will be sent back or discarded.


Students must submit a poem in the form of a ballad using one of the two book titles listed in their age category as inspiration for their poem. The book’s contents do not need to be included in the poem; students may simply use the title.

Ballads are poems that tell a story, and are considered to be a form of narrative poetry. They are often used in songs and have a very musical quality to them. The core structure for a ballad is a quatrain, (four lines) written in either abcb or abab rhyme schemes. The first and third lines are iambic (metric foot which goes: unstressed/stressed) tetrameter, with eight beats per line; the second and fourth lines are in iambic trimeter, with six beats per line. Your ballad may be 4 to 8 stanzas long, and you may choose either one of the rhyme schemes listed above.

Some example ballads can be found below:

Category 1 (ages 7 to 10 as of May 1, 2011)

  • Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  • The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

Category 2 (ages 11 to 14 as of May 1, 2011)

  • Comedy of Errors by William Shakespeare
  • Call it Courage by Armstrong Sperry

Category 3 (ages 15 to 19 as of May 1, 2011)

  • War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

We try to choose themes that will leave a lot of room for students’ imagination and interpretation, without us dictating the response.

Students do not have to actually include the theme title in their poem. The titles are meant to be the inspiration and theme behind whatever images or story the students decide to portray.

We hope that students will come up with many imaginative ideas to fit the theme. Our judges love it when a student comes up with something they had not thought of before.


For the purposes of this contest, an eligible student must have been home educated in the past year and received a majority of his or her education in the past year through home education.

Format and Submissions

  1. Poems must be the work of the student entering the contest. No assistance of other parties, including but not limited to editing or proof reading, is permissible.
  2. The poems should be typed, in at least 12 point font, and single spaced with a double space between stanzas.
  3. Each poem must have a title.
  4. Each author may enter up to five poems. Each poem requires a separate entry fee.
  5. Only one poem per page.
  6. The student’s phone number should appear at the top of each page. NO OTHER from of identification should appear on these pages.
  7. The poem must be accompanied by an entry form including the student’s full name, date of birth, HSLDA membership number (where applicable) and contact information, including email and phone number, should be on a separate sheet of paper.

Poems, entry form, and entry fee must be mailed to:

Attn: Poetry Contest
P.O. Box 3000
Purcellville, VA 20134-9000

Entries must be postmarked on or before June 1, 2011. Only entries sent to the above address will qualify for the contest.



HSLDA Member Discounted Entry Fee $10.00
Regular Entry Fee $15.00

The check should be made payable to “HSLDA” with a note of “Poetry Contest” in the memo line. Please do not enclose cash.

Prizes for Each Category


Category 1 2 3
First $100 $150 $200
Second $75 $100 $150
Third $50 $50 $100
Honorable Mentions (2) $25 $25 $50


  1. Poems will be evaluated by a panel of judges appointed by HSLDA.
  2. Poems will be judged on originality of thought, writing style, and adherence to both the theme and the traditional requirements of the form.
  3. The decision of the judges is final.
  4. Results of the contest will be released by mid-July 2011.

Other Information

By submitting a poem you:

  • Grant Home School Legal Defense Association the right to publish all or part of your submission.
  • Agree to all rules and the decisions of the judges and sponsors.

Home School Legal Defense Association is not responsible for any lost, damaged, misdirected, delayed, mutilated, incomplete, illegible, or postage-due entries or mail.

All profits from this contest will go to the Home School Foundation’s Special Needs Children Fund

Please contact the Contest Coordinator at contests@hslda.org with any questions.

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