2019 Poetry Contest

Henri Matisse,  Icarus , 1946

Henri Matisse, Icarus, 1946

The Encounter invited all poets writing in English to submit up to 3 poems (maximum 40 lines each), related in some way to the theme, “Something to Start From” (see below). Our guest judge was author, professor and award-winning poet, Paul Mariani.

There was no fee to enter, but cash prizes of $300, $200 and $100 that would be awarded to first, second and third place poems. The winners will be invited to read their poems on the New York Encounter stage at Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street during the 3-day festival which will take place February 15–17 (Presidents' Day Weekend). Winners will also have the option of having their poems published on the New York Encounter website after the reading.

See last year's winning poems.

Submission Guidelines: Submit up to 3 unpublished poems, maximum 40 lines each, related to the NYE 2019 theme "Something to Start From." For the purpose of blind judging, do not include your name on the file name or within the document.

Submission deadline: December 2, 2018.


Thank you for your submission!

Something to Start From

We are at the end of an epoch and we feel the need to rediscover our identity and somehow start again. But, having abandoned traditions, challenged norms, and rejected authorities, we are left with nothing but ourselves to make sense of it all. With no blueprint, the present is full of unease and the future appears enigmatic.

We are uncertain of the meaning of our lives, and so often feel confused, alone and isolated. Our collective days are filled by the pressures of success and conformity, along with the fear of being left behind. Failure seems irredeemable, mercy impossible. So, we often look for scapegoats or ways to escape. But tribal belonging or artificial realities are poor substitutes for the certainties we have lost.

At the same time, this very unease reveals something in us. Something that feels the lack, aches for meaning, and recognizes the truth, like a tuning fork vibrating for its single, unmistakable note. Something that makes us long to be looked at, listened to, understood, forgiven, valued just because we exist. Something that perceives a promise even within these challenging times and urges us to respond, to say “Here I am!”, to seek justice, to build anew. An innermost, irreducible, decisive core marked by a stubborn expectation.

Has anyone ever promised us anything? Then WHY do we expect something?
— Cesare Pavese