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The Encounter invites all poets writing in English to submit up to 3 poems (maximum 40 lines each), related in some way to the theme “Crossing the Divide" (description below). Our guest judge is internationally acclaimed and award-winning poet, Dana Gioia.

There is no fee, but cash prizes of $300, $200 and $100 will 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 14–16 (Presidents' Day Weekend). The winning poems will be published on the NYE website after the reading.

See last year's winning poems. 

Submission Guidelines: 

Submit up to 3 unpublished poems, maximum 40 lines each, on the theme "Crossing the Divide" (description below). 

For the purpose of blind judging, do not include your name on the file name or within the document. 

No cover letter is necessary. Just make sure your Submittable contact information is up to date.

Submission deadline: December 2, 2019.  Winners will be contacted in January 2020.

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Crossing the Divide

These days we live as if enclosed in shells of ideology. They divide us from reality, from each other and from ourselves. We proclaim the value of diversity, but can only talk to those who share our views. We say we love justice, but use it as a weapon against our enemies. We venerate science, but pick and choose its results along party lines. And when our ideologies fail to deliver, we are left alone, angry and afraid.

However, some events still manage to break through these shells. They can be tragic, like a natural disaster or a school shooting, or beautiful, like a new love or the birth of a child. Then, for a moment, we find ourselves in wonder…more aware…united. These events open our eyes and awaken something in us: nostalgia, thirst for life, a cry for meaning. And sometimes we discover that the seemingly unbridgeable distance between people — be they family, coworkers, or even strangers on the subway — is actually paper-thin.

We do not want to waste these moments! And yet, left to our own devices, we retreat again into the shells of our tribal ideologies. These experiences, which made us see things differently, quickly decay, and everything gets twisted to fit our preconceptions.

In the end, is there anything that lasts? What can help us hold on to these experiences? Is there someone, somewhere, who lives fully and makes us want more from life? In short, a true friend?

We climbed up, he first and I behind him,
far enough to see, through a round opening,
a few of those fair things the heavens bear.
Then we came forth, to see again the stars.

—Dante, Inferno, Canto XXXIV


Join us on February 14-16, 2020, for a weekend of public discussions, exhibits and live performances to delve into these questions with friends.