College Poetry Contest

The Lyric College Poetry Contest is open to undergraduates enrolled full time in an American or Canadian college or university

First Prize ~ $500
Second Prize ~ $150
Third Prize ~ $100
Honorable Mention ~ Year’s subscription and bragging rights


Poems must be original and unpublished, 39 lines or less, written in English in traditional forms, preferably with regular scansion and rhyme. We welcome up to three poems per student.

Winners are announced and published in the Winter issue of The Lyric.

Entries may be sent by mail to Tanya Cimonetti:

The Lyric College Contest
c/o Tanya Cimonetti
1393 Spear Street
South Burlington, VT 05403
Inquiries and information available at

2016 was our last year accepting email entries.  All entries must be submitted between September 1 and December 31 with the following information on each poem:

  1. Student’s name and complete address
  2. College’s name and complete address

We look forward to receiving beautifully structured and inspiring work from America’s  colleges and Universities!



First Prize – THE BARREN MEN by Jonathan Graham, College of Charleston, South Carolina

This very moment the axe is being pressed
against the roots of the trees; therefore every tree
not bearing proper fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.–Matthew 3:10
The axe already lies against the roots.
The ravens circle fires for the chaff;
all is a loss that isn’t proper fruit.

The time is now: now each of us must choose

to set our feet upon the proper path.
The axe already lies against the roots.

So speaks the prophet, calling all times soon:

the time of fire, smoke, the day of wrath,
consuming all that isn’t proper fruit.

Still we, who hear his warning each refuse
to listen, choose to mock him to the last.
The axe already lies against our roots.

We try to reason, but the point is moot.

We each opine, but then our time is past
And all is lost that isn’t proper fruit.

The barren men who wear their whitewash suits

come down like haughty pines; the heavens laugh.
The axe already lies against the roots.
We all are lost who don’t bear proper fruit.


Second Prize – MUSINGS FROM A DORMITORY WINDOW by Amanda Trout, Pittsburg State University, Kansas

There are two worlds where I reside;
Where my new life will soon begin.
Between them both my sorrows hide.

While one road sought is true and tried
Hope for the next is frail and thin.
There are two worlds where I reside.

The time draws near when I decide
which land my tortured soul will win.
Between them both my sorrows hide.

I slave away to save my pride,
Transform to droll convention’s twin.
There are two worlds where I reside.

Scars marked with paint form the outside
While faux feelings line what’s within.
Between them both my sorrows hide.

What once was sacred pushed aside
In trade for a path marred with sin.
There are two worlds where I reside.
Between them both my sorrows hide.


Third Prize – SUNDAY by Chidinma Opaigbeogu, University of Maryland, Maryland

Sunday mornings, our faces were washed in the glow of burgeoning sunrise.
We slid through hallways on stockinged feet, our tights running faster then
us.  “God,

stop dressing like I don’t buy you new clothes,” Mommy used to say, her
earlobes weighted under solid gold.

I grew up believing church was a fashion show.  God

doesn’t care what you wear (maybe)./Our muted heels on burgundy carpet
always signaled reverence.

At our seats, the shoes were first to go.  We savored the feel of our spread
toes entwined in dusty carpet.  Trust a God

who banishes pumps from heaven./ We always looked forward to
communion, to those crisp white wafers and grape juice.

We fancied ourselves wine drinkers, blood bats.  We hid pieces of you
beneath our tongues: that white crust.  God

in heaven, hallowed be thy name.

The taste of regurgitated scripture in my mouth became synonymous with

I used to hover outside my grandmother’s room, listening to prayers:
jumbled symphonies of sound,

a prayer language between her and the Lord.  My mouth never learned to
speak in tongues to God./

It was easier when I just believed what I was told.  It was easier when I 

thought a congregation was an audience for a show.
Jesus Christ, it was easier when I used to trust God.