The 25th Annual Poetry Contest is here! 

Welcome to Fresno County Public Library's 25th Annual Poetry Contest.  Submit your poems between April 1st and April 30th. Poems will be judged by talented, local professionals and our winners will be celebrated at an in-person Awards Ceremony in June.

The contest runs from April 1– April 30.
Winning poems will be announced online and in person in June.  

3rd-5th Grade
6th-8th Grade
9th-12th Grade
Adult (18 and up)

To be announced.

If you have any questions or concerns, please email us at 

  • Submit your poem using the link on this site.
  • Participants must be residents of Fresno County.
  • One poem can be submitted per person.
  • Poems written in previous years can be submitted.
  • No previously published poems will be accepted (including but not limited to theses, academic journals, and online publications).
  • Poems can be submitted in English or Spanish. 
  • Participants will retain the copyright on their poems.
  • FCPL reserves the right to not publish poems that violate the FCPL Rules of Conduct and Comments Policy (linked below).
  • Participants are responsible for ensuring the poems submitted do not violate the guidelines for the contest and are not plagiarized or violate an existing copyright.

Remember: This contest is for all ages so please use appropriate language. The Library reserves the right to not publish or post entries. Poems that violate the FCPL Rules of Conduct and the Comments policy (linked below) or violate the rules of the FCPL Poetry Contest will not be eligible and will not be published.

Note to readers: Some of the poems submitted may contain sensitive topics. If you or someone you know needs help, please consider accessing our Hotlines & Helplines page.

April is National Poetry Month and this year we have added a new component to our Annual Poetry Contest on our beanstack LibraryClub!

Sign up for the Poetry Month Challenge on beanstack to start playing Bingo and earning new badges. You can even invite friends and keep track of your reading all year long.

A Life Wasted

In the twilight of my years I walk alone,
My body, it aches, though my mind is still spry. 
For decades four I’d drowned my woes with wine, 
But now, head clear, I see with sober eye. 

I miss the loves that had passed aside, 
The wife and babe I’d lost to drink and rage.
For all those years, sweet family was denied - 
A hopeless fool locked in addiction’s cage. 

Now lively lasses laugh and flirt by near, 
Reminding me of charms forever gone. 
Though I feel young, to them I do appear 
A doddering fool, so old and bent and wan. 

With clarity I see the waste laid bare - 
A life besot by wine and full of sin. 
No chance to redo what wasn’t done with care - 
My life a tragedy, all that could have been. 

So to the youths, a warning I do bring - 
Turn not to wine, nor waste thy life entire! 
Make not my error, else thy heart shall sting - 
Let virtue guide thee, lest thou reap my pyre.

--William C., Adult

Ephemeral Slumber

In the cold heat of a desert night

She lays sunken in the sand

Her thirst trapped by an out of reach vase

The clothing she wears spindles neatly

Precisely carved with a pastel rainbow

The guardian, large with a seemingly infinite tail

Watches over her closely

A speckled night showcases a clear moon

Clear in its anguish

As it brings the traveler to the end of her journey

With morning on the horizon

--Kyle L., Adult

A World filled with Wonder

Carried by a glimmering morning dove;

through the air currents of vast blue canvases 

intervals of water encircled in a white cotton frame; 

and translucent sluggish mist; 

a gaping observatory of flora and fauna shatters its doors

 with its verity beguiling the few who get the chance to view it; 

petrified with astonishment 

this world is filled with wonder for those who appreciate the truth

--Elizabeth K., 9th-12th Grade

Remember Them...

We must all remember
Remember them truly... 
The individuals who sacrificed their lives for you & I 
And our country 
We shall be proud to honor them as our heroes
It’s not easy at all
Not easy to serve in the United States Armed Forces
But thanks to them we are the strong country we are today
If it were not for them… 
Would you be able to picture the United States without them
I could not and you would not either 
So let’s take the time to remember them… 
Those heroes who made an impact on our lives
And continue to do so today
We must be grateful for their bravery…
We must be United at all times--regardless of struggles
Because we are the United States for a reason. 
God bless them… 
Our heroes.

--Jacquelin M., Adult

Cor Cordium (Heart of Hearts)

Oh, for there is a wild animal caged within my ribs
Pacing the floor of the pericardium that cushions its fall
I must say that sometimes I fear this ravenous beast
With jaws so large it seems it would devour the whole world

A Venn diagram of passion and pain, an infinity of ventricles
The creature gallops in place as if chasing some distant prey
Rattling the bars of its enclosure with cries for oxygen
If let loose I am sure it would bring destruction upon my pride

Yet I know not what else to do with such a fearsome thing
It mocks beauty by pounding its frenzied paws
It leaps at the most trivial matters of the day
It curls in on itself when it is already warm
And would tear to shreds any sleeve it encounters

To silence or remove it would be to invite an instant death
And so I must learn to live with its erratic appetite
I must train it to settle down every time you pass
And not to act so comfortable when you get close

I must muffle the sound when it shrieks your name
And discourage it from poking its head out as you near
For there is a wild animal caged within my ribs
Do tread carefully, for I fear that you can hear its call

--Alyssa K., 9th-12th Grade

The Way to Succeed

The best way to be successful is to follow your passion
Have the courage, make a plan, put it into action
Always dedicate your life, one day, you’ll start passing
Look for people who can help you, go around, keep asking

Keep on working in the dirt, keep on working in the heat
Bring some friends with you, keep on working with the Gs
You can do it, man, just keep your head up, keep pushing hard, don’t let up
When you feel down, dry your tears, man, and get up

No more quitting until you win it, no giving up until you get it
You will get it someday, just be pivoting ‘til you hit it
Just keep hitting hard, if you’re in music, keep on spitting bars
Keep hoping that your efforts will help you get far

You may not get it the first time
Or the second time, or even the third time
You may be done a lot of dirt for it
Good things don’t come easy, you got to work for it

--David O., Adult


Across the shiny inlet where
freshwater reaches for the salt, 
geese are wading or sleeping. 
Above three pelicans are heading
out to see if it's school time where
they can grab a free lunch.
What do I know about loneliness
when it's never quite quiet out 
here where the sea is still undecided
about what it wants to be?  

--Janell W., Adult