Dedication to Lou Standifer

This year, we dedicate the Fresno County Public Library Poetry Contest to the poet Lou Standifer. We hope that his strong voice, his strong writing, and his strong story will inspire all of us.

Click here to read a dedication written by Fresno's first Poet Laureate, James Tyner.

22nd Annual Poetry Contest

Help us celebrate the 22nd Anniversary
of this local tradition! 

Welcome to Fresno County Public Library's 22nd Annual Poetry Contest happening April 1st through April 30th. Poems will be judged by talented, local professionals. Due to COVID-19 concerns, entries and the announcement of winners will be entirely online this year. We will not be having an in-person awards ceremony. 

The contest runs from April 1st - April 30th, 2021.
Winning poems will be announced online on June 1st, 2021.  

3rd-6th Grade
7th-8th Grade
9th-12th Grade
Adult (18 and up)

Winners in each category will receive a gift card, generously donated by the Friends of the Fresno County Public Library.

1st Place: $100
2nd Place: $50
3rd Place: $25

Submit your poem using the link on this site. Only online submissions, please, and one poem per person. You must be a Fresno County resident to participate. Poems submitted by non-Fresno County residents will be posted on the blog but will not be eligible for the contest.

Poems can be submitted in English or Spanish. 

Remember: This contest is for all ages so please use appropriate language. The Library reserves the right to not publish or post entries, however all eligible poems will still be considered by the judges.

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My Special Place

My special place
A place where I can go
It is where the fiddlenecks grow
That is my special place
My special place
It is where wildflowers bloom
Where popcorn flowers are mixed with fiddlenecks
That is my special place

--Zeph M., 3rd-6th Grade


From the second someone’s born, to the moment they die
That’s just a thing, I don’t know why
From the second someone’s born to the moment they die 
Do they get reborn? 
I don’t know 
They might be reborn in the snow 
Or as a mouse 
Or a cat
Maybe a rat
Or maybe even a hat!

--Alma M., 3rd-6th Grade

Reading "Nighthawks"

(With appreciation for Edward Hopper)

There are no secrets
in this place;
A window as wide as this
Reveals All.

A wash of blues
sets a somber mood.
Yet there is care here –
see the gleaming countertops?

That businessman,
his head bowed,
his back to the street:
        Was it a deal gone bad?
        A contract that collapsed?
Not all may be lost –
look at the light
that caresses one shoulder.

And over there,
the couple seated
at the corner,
so serious.

Their hands touch tentatively.
Their faces fall forward.
    She resembles fire;
    he might be the water
    that douses her dreams.
But hold on:
they are framed
In the glow of hope.

the soda jerk shines in white.
He’s bent over, tending
to his shift,
ears tuned to the beat
of broken wings.

--Karen Y., Adult


Life can seem cold when the games people play never get old.
We get what we can then we take from the other man.
Sometimes it seems like life's a big scheme, we say what you want to hear but never what we mean.
Once in life I’d like to see, two people in life, like you and like me, come together as one
and overcome the stress and the strain that life is sure to bring.
In this poem I’m trying to say that life is tough it gets tougher from day to day.
So when your days are long and your nights seem longer hold the one you love and together
you’ll grow stronger.

--Doris E., Adult

Bahia Honeymooners

She is in Bahia, he is too. 
Daughter of Sun, son of Moon my dear honeymooners, strolling the ex-since days - virgin Cajaoro white astonishing beach, shells in abundance scurrying about, adorning their love story, a mosaic calligraphic declaration.

The ukulele strings uttering their overwhelming emotions Bahia drums echoing ecstatically, enough to blow out the candles to set fire on veins. 
She is posing as Marlin Monroe.

Her hands "Arco Iris" in the truest oceanic wave, reflecting the sky azure, aquamarine and turquoise, mixed shades of their eyes' delight captured artistically by his camera.

--Laila E., Adult

Stolen Soul

With all the love she gave,
She always received a little.
But never once complained,
She knew some loves were brittle.
Every smile she offered,
Was often never returned.
Still strangers came with tin cans,
Collecting smiles they never earned.
Shoulder soaked in tears,
With none of them her own.
Lent her ear to everyone,
All the while she felt alone.
Many borrowed her thoughts,
Drawing lines across her head.
Carelessly traveled her mind,
She followed to be misled.
So patiently she waited,
For someone to shine a light.
But darkness filled to brim,
Not a single one in sight.
Coldness started swimming,
Her pool of loneliness.
No one there to save her,
As she drowned in their success.
Naive to give her love,
Hoping to change the world.
She should’ve changed her mind,
To know what she deserves.
But though they stole her soul,
She never blamed the thief.
For robbing hers was the only way
Their souls could be relieved.

--Ryah L., Adult

My So-called Mom

When she got mad at me
She slapped her hand at me
Across my face
That hand went fast
The pain stung for a couple of seconds
Then went away
There is a red hand on my left cheek
That will never go away
Sad but true, that's all I have to remember her by
Trying to make me do better
But all I did was get sadder
She was my Mom

--Tamara G., Adult