Judges needed for new youth poetry contest

For the first time, Delta author Laura Michelle Thomas is hosting a freeto-enter international poetry competition for aspiring young writers.

This past August, Thomas added the poetry contest to her current offerings, which include the International Junior Authors Short Story Contest that opens for its seventh season in February.

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The poetry contest closes at midnight on Jan. 31, and Thomas is seeking a handful of qualified judges to help her choose the winners. So far, according to Thomas, more than 700 poems have been submitted from over 30 countries from young writers in four age categories, ranging from nine to 21 years old.

"I'm blown away by the response," said Thomas. "The most surprising thing is that on the entry form more than 80 per cent of the entrants state that they heard about the contest by doing a Google search, from a teacher, or friend."

Thomas originally believed it would be the 1,800-plus writers in her 2013 short story contest who would make up the majority of contestants in her poetry contest.

"With so many young writers finding out about us through the poetry contest for the first time, we could see thousands of entries for this year's short story contest," she said. "At 1,000 words per short story, it's a bit daunting when you think about how much reading and judging that will entail."

Thomas said judging the poems for the poetry contest should be much less arduous for the volunteers she is currently seeking. She has limited the length of the poems to 50 lines, and has created a detailed judging key, which makes it easier to assign scores.

To keep the amount of work reasonable for her volunteers, she will do a preliminary round of judging before distributing the strongest poems in each category to her team.

Judging will take place in March. Qualified individuals who would like to join the Junior Authors Poetry Contest judging team may apply by contacting Thomas prior to March 1. For more about the poetry contest, visit www.laurathomascommunications.com.

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