Attention Franklin County poets: 33rd annual Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest is now seeking submissions; deadline Feb. 26

Poet’s Seat Tower on a windy fall day.

Poet’s Seat Tower on a windy fall day. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Some of the 26th annual Poet's Seat Poetry Contest winners in 2017.

Some of the 26th annual Poet's Seat Poetry Contest winners in 2017. STAFF PHOTO/JOSHUA SOLOMON

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 01-26-2024 12:40 PM

The 33rd annual Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest is now seeking submissions through the end of February, as the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library prepares to bring the contest’s awards ceremony to the new library.

The Friends of the Greenfield Public Library is seeking poems for the contest, which is open to Franklin County residents and to students ages 12 to 18 years old who attend school in Franklin County. Each entrant may submit up to three poems and poems must be submitted by Feb. 26.

Bob Barba, the 2019 winner of the adult poetry category and current judge, said the event is a wonderful opportunity for poets of all experience levels to share their work with the community. He said they often get “working poets” and a slew of new poets each year that are sharing their work for the first time.

“It’s a community poetry contest and the beauty of a community poetry contest … is it’s an opportunity to get those poems read,” Barba said, adding they get approximately 150 adult poems and 60 to 80 youth poems each year.“Like sourdough bread, poetry got really popular in the pandemic … and we seem especially thick on the ground here in western Massachusetts.”

In an effort to boost participation among teens, the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library is also organizing a poetry workshop with Eaglebrook School on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at 3 p.m. in the Makerspace room at the library. More information will be shared on the Friends’ website when it is available.

Awards will be given in both the adult and youth categories, with the youth category being split between two age divisions: 12 to 14 years old and 15 to 18 years old. Two winners are selected for each youth subcategory — though they are not ranked — and adult category entrants can receive prizes for first, second or third place.

The adult first-prize winner will receive stewardship of the Poet’s Seat chair until the next adult first-place winner is announced the following year. The winner’s name will be engraved on the chair’s plaque, alongside the previous winners’ names. Other prizes will be awarded in each category.

Ten finalists will also be selected in each category and each of them will be invited to read their work at the awards ceremony on April 23 at 6 p.m.

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“A lot of people who come and read their poems are doing it for the first time,” Barba said, adding that is “sort of a little prize in its own right … It’s a pretty friendly, local way to try it out.”

Previously held at Stoneleigh-Burnham School, this year’s awards ceremony will be held for the first time at the new Greenfield Public Library, which opened up in July 2023.

Entries via USPS must be postmarked by Feb. 26 and can be addressed to: Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest, Greenfield Public Library, 402 Main St., Greenfield, MA 01301. Hand-delivered submissions to the library are also welcome. Online submissions must be submitted by the same deadline and can be submitted through a Google Form at this link: bit.ly/48MbOgw.

For more information about the Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest, including participation guidelines, visit its page on the Friends of the Greenfield Public Library’s website at bit.ly/4b5tg13.

Chris Larabee can be reached at clarabee@recorder.com or 413-930-4081.