I attribute my love of poetry almost entirely to my first-grade teacher, who after letting me read the final chapter of Charlotte’s Web aloud during storytime (because she was too overcome with emotion to continue), discovered that I also had the rhythmic timing necessary to read poems aloud to the class. We, of course, dove into the Shel Silverstein classics. She challenged us with harder, second-grade poems. We read them to each other. We illustrated the lines. We fell in love with poetry.
The Alice Osborn award, judged by Kristian Erny, celebrates playful language, surprise, and novelty. These poems, written by adults for children, also hold delights for the grown-ups who read them. Send your poems that capture the child’s imagination in up to 36 lines to firstname.lastname@example.org . Be sure to check out the adult contest page for a complete list of submission guidelines.
Here’s a poem of Silverstein’s that my six-year-old self is jealous she didn’t get to break out as a retort to her parents, offered along with this reminder that poetry for children is not always full of whimsy. Be sure to check out the 2021 Alice Osborn winners in the 2021 Pinesong; and read Erny’s bio below.
Kristina Erny is a third culture poet who grew up in South Korea. Her poetry has appeared in The Los Angeles Review, Tupelo Quarterly, Yemassee, Bluestem, and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from the University of Arizona, and her work has been the recipient of the Tupelo Quarterly Inaugural Poetry Open Prize and the Ruskin Art Club Poetry Award. Her manuscript Wax of What’s Left was a finalist for Tupelo Press’s Dorset Prize, Ahsahta Sawtooth Poetry award, and the Colorado Prize for Poetry. After many years of teaching internationally, she currently teaches university creative writing and lives in Kentucky with her husband, sons, and daughter.