2018 Young Minds Dreaming Poetry Contest

In 2018, the South Carolina State Library is coordinating the second annual Young Minds Dreaming Poetry Contest for students in grades 3 – 12. The Young Minds Dreaming Poetry Contest encourages young writers to capture the power of their words and experience the freedom of original literary expressions. The deadline for submissions is Friday, March 16, 2018 and a special community celebration featuring Kwame Alexander will take place on Saturday, April 21 SC Humanities helped support this project with a Fast Track Literary Grant.

Students are invited to participate by sharing poems about a person, place, or an experience that has changed their life. First, Second, and Third Place winners will be selected for the following groups: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12. Winners and their families will be invited to the State Library to read their poems, meet poet and bestselling author Kwame Alexander, receive a signed copy of his book, Out of Wonder, and be awarded an Amazon gift card, up to $50!

Kwame Alexander is the author of 25 books, including The Crossover, which received the 2015 John Newbery Medal for the Most Distinguished Contribution to American literature for Children. His newest release, Solo, a young-adult novel in verse co-authored with Mary Rand Hess is a New York Times bestseller. Some of his other works include The Playbook: 52 Rules to Help You Aim, Shoot, and Score in this Game of Life; the picture books Animal ArkOut of Wonder, and Surf’s Up; and novels BookedHe Said She Said, and the forthcoming prequel to The CrossoverRebound. Kwame Alexander believes that poetry can change the world, and he uses it to inspire and empower young people through his writing and publishing program. Visit him at kwamealexander.com.

Students interested in participating should review the contest requirements, register, and submit their poem here. Submissions are accepted from Tuesday, January 16, 2018 to Friday, March 16, 2018. All entries must be submitted by 6:00 p.m. on Friday, March 16, 2018. Winners will be notified by email and announced on our website on Friday, April 6, 2018.

Last year’s first Young Minds Dreaming Poetry Contest received more than 600 student submissions throughout the state and showed that young poets want to write and share their art. Watch this ETV video and start writing!

After the awards ceremony for the student winners, there will be a special community celebration at 5:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 21 featuring Kwame Alexander. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. The event begins at 5:30 p.m., followed by a book signing. This event is free and open to the public but space is extremely limited. Please register for a ticket to reserve a space. Each person is limited to one ticket. More information about this special event is available here: http://statelibrary.sc.libcal.com/event/4000413.


The mission of SC Humanities is to enrich the cultural and intellectual lives of all South Carolinians. Established in 1973, this 501(c) 3 organization is governed by a volunteer 20-member Board of Directors comprised of community leaders from throughout the state. It presents and/or supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.