River of Words Poetry and Art Contest

River of Words Poetry and Art Contest is a free, international youth poetry and art contest

Competition Details

Introduction: River of Words Poetry and Art Contest is a free, international youth poetry and art contest — the largest in the world inspires students ages 5 to 19 to translate their observations into creative expression. River of Words® (ROW) is a program of The Center for Environmental Literacy and a part of the Kalmanovitz School of Education, at Saint Mary’s College of California.

Competition Rules: Poems should not exceed 32 lines or 3 minutes (signed), and poems must be in English and Spanish. Participants may submit up to 5 entries for poetry and 5 for art (total of 10 entries). 

Awards and Prizes

Art and Poetry Category Winners: One winner is selected in each of Poetry’s four age/grade categories. One winner is selected in the four age/grade categories in Art. Categories are below: 

  • Category I: K-Grade 2 (Primary) or ages 5-7
  • Category II: Grades 3-5 (Elementary) or ages 8-11
  • Category III: Grades 6-8 (Intermediary) or ages 11-14
  • Category IV: Grades 9-12 (Secondary) or ages 14-19

Specialty Prizes: 

  • International Prize: Awarded to one international entry, either art or poetry, in any age category.
  • Shasta Bioregion Prize: Awarded to one entry, either art or poetry, honoring a Northern California watershed.
  • Monkey’s Raincoat Prize: Awarded to a short poem in the tradition of the Japanese haiku.
  • One Square Block Prize: Awarded to poems that examine city-scapes and the interaction between the manmade and the natural world. 
  • “On Writing” Poetry Finalists: Features narratives that reflect on the writing process and the speaker’s connection to writing. Awarded to approximately 5 poems every year.
  • Art and Poetry Finalists: Approximately 50 finalists in art and 50 finalists in poetry are selected to be published alongside the Grand Prize winners. 

Competition Website: For more information about the competition, click here.


K through 12th-grade students, ages 5-20. Students must be enrolled in school to be eligible. All entries must be submitted by a parent, guardian, educator, or facilitator unless the student is 18 years old or older.

Submission deadline

January 31, 2024

Our Teaching Methods

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Students who previously took the class:

Throughout the years, our students have successfully gained admission or are currently attending top-ranking secondary and high schools around the world: America, Australia, Canada, China, and more:

  • Cardigan Mountain School
  • Choate Rosemary Hall
  • Concord Academy
  • Groton School
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