Youth Poetry, En Masse

A special connection with a soccer ball. How it felt when he left you alone, in front of your locker, with only your Mead 5 Star to catch your tears. Justin Bieber's eyes.

Nothing is off limits when it comes to youth poetry.

Now in its 16th year, "Express Yourself" -- the Dallas Library's annual celebration of poetry, as told by area students -- is calling for submissions.

Last year boasted more than 1200 entries by Dallas youth, which is an amazing feat all on its own. Part of that success is due to the program's ability to rally kids and young adults, on their turf. "We send published poets into the schools to do workshops and get them writing," said Joe Giudice, the event's key organizer.

(Get involved, after the jump.)

The rules are pretty simple: You must be a Dallas resident and/or attend a Dallas school. Entries are taken from grades 2 through 12, and are organized accordingly. There are 60 winners overall, and those chosen are placed in a published anthology. Each winner receives a copy. There are also three grand prize winners who are given medals for their verbal victories. Best of all, kids can write about any subject they want.

Was any one topic more popular than another? "Well," said Giudice, "there were a lot of love poems, and they were very emotional. Even by fifth and sixth graders, which was sweet."

From the boys, too?

"Naw," she counters. "They mostly write about sports."

Ain't that always the way.

* Know someone eligible to participate? Encourage them to show off their rhythm and structure, their style and tone, their love of soccer and Justin Bieber. Anything to get them writing. Find submission links here.

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