International Institute of Modern Letters

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The entry deadline for the National Schools Poetry Award has been extended until Friday 10 July 2015. 

Thanks to the generosity of donors to our successful Boosted campaign, this year's Award will be held in full.

The Award is normally held annually. It is free to enter and open to Year 12 and 13 students across New Zealand. Posters and entry forms are sent to all eligible schools by the end of March in each year that the Award is held. Students can also enter online before the entry deadline, via our dedicated Schools Poetry website, where you can also read previous winning and finalist poems.

Visit our How to Enter page for more details.

The National Schools Writing Festival, which has previously accompanied the Poetry Award,  is currently in hiatus.

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Media Releases

Winner 2013 (205KB PDF)

Winners 2012 (252 KB PDF)

Winners 2011 (243 KB PDF)

Winners 2009 (42 KB PDF)

Winners 2008 (165 KB PDF) 

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2015 Prizes

First Prize

  • A $500 cash prize for the winner. 
  • A $500 book grant for the winner’s school library.
  • An invitation to attend a one-day poetry masterclass at the International Institute of Modern Letters, including flights and one night’s accommodation at the Bolton Hotel for students outside the Greater Wellington region.
  • A year’s membership of the New Zealand Book Council and the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA).
  • A year’s subscription to two leading New Zealand literary journals; Sport and Landfall.
  • A copy of The Exercise Book from Victoria University Press.

Runners-up Prizes

  • a $100 cash prize.
  • An invitation to attend a one-day poetry masterclass at the International Institute of Modern Letters, including flights and one night’s accommodation at the Bolton Hotel for students outside the Greater Wellington region.
  • A year’s membership of the New Zealand Book Council.
  • Professional development leaflets from the New Zealand Society of Authors (NZSA).
  • A year’s subscription to Sport, one of New Zealand’s leading literary journals.
  • A copy of The Exercise Book from Victoria University Press.

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The Poetry Kit

The Poetry Kit is a free, downloadable resource produced by the International Institute of Modern Letters for students and their teachers to use in the lead up to the Award and beyond. 

 Download The Poetry Kit (527 KB PDF)

The Kit includes writing exercises, links to useful and inspiring creative writing websites and tips on writing from internationally acclaimed poets, and is updated and added to each year.

Writing poetry is about allowing the unexpected in so the word magic can happen. One way to invite the unexpected is to use a writing exercise that will open you up to the surprises and potential of language. The six exercises in this year's Kit may spark a poem or an idea for an Award entry. They will, at the very least, get the pen moving across the page.

 You can also read or download writing resources and judges' reports from our previous Poetry Awards and Writing Festivals.

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Supporters

 

Prize Partners

Bolton Hotel

New Zealand Book Council

 

 New Zealand Society of Authors

SPORTVictoria University Press

Landfall literary journal University of Otago

 

And thanks to Neogine for creating our dedicated Schools Poetry Award website to showcase the winning and shortlisted poems.

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History of the Award

The National Schools Poetry Award was first awarded in 2003, with the law firm Bell Gully as major sponsor. This inaugural award was judged by Gregory O'Brien and won by Mia Gaudin from Epsom Girls Grammar School. The 2004 award, judged by Glenn Colquhoun, was won by Poppy Haynes from Chilton St James School. The 2005 award, judged by Bernadette Hall, was won by Kirsti Whalen from Epsom Girls Grammar School. The 2006 award, judged by James Brown, was won by Alisha Vara from Rangi Ruru Girls' School.

In 2006 the shortlist was increased from six to ten students, with an expanded package of prizes, including a one-day poetry masterclass at the IIML in Wellington for all finalists. For the first time the judge, James Brown, was invited to recognise a small number of additional poems with a special commendation.

In 2007 we said goodbye to Bell Gully and welcomed New Zealand Post as the Award's new major sponsor.

The 2007 New Zealand Post National Schools Poetry Awards, judged by Andrew Johnston, saw the introduction of a new Recording Prize category.

Chloë Nannestad of Epsom Girls Grammar School was the overall winner, while the recording prize was won by Shannyn Boyd of Hutt Valley High School.

In 2008 the Best Poem category, judged by Paula Green, was won by Manon Revuelta of Epsom Girls Grammar School. The Best Lyric category, judged by Samuel Flynn Scott, was won by Sonya Clark of Karamu High School.

In 2009 the Best Poem category, judged by Jenny Bornholdt, was won by Charlotte Trevella of Rangi Ruru Girls' School. The Best Lyric category, judged by Jason Kerrison, was won by Sam Hickson of Middleton Grange School.

In 2009 we also said goodbye to New Zealand Post as our major sponsor and the 2010 Award was suspended, along with the National Schools Writing Festival which has been run alongside the Award since 2004. The support of Creative New Zealand enabled us to reinstate the Award in 2011 and to hold it again in 2012.

The 2011 Award was judged by New Zealand's 2009-2011 Poet Laureate Cilla McQueen. The overall winner was Eden Tautali of Auckland's St Cuthbert's College.

The 2012 Award was judged by New Zealand's current Poet Laureate Ian Wedde. The overall winner was Haro Lee of Auckland's St Cuthbert's College.

The 2013 Award was judged by Anna Jackson. The overall winner was Emma Shi of Auckland's Pakuranga College.

In 2013, the New Zealand Association for the Teaching of English (NZATE) generously funded the poetry masterclass for our ten finalists.

The Award was suspended in 2014, as we were unable to secure sufficient sponsorship. However, it has been reinstated in full for 2015, with Cliff Fell as our judge, thanks to the support of Creative new Zealand and the generosity of donors to our successful Boosted campaign.

We would like to acknowledge the generous and ongoing support of our prize partners: The Bolton Hotel, The New Zealand Book Council, the New Zealand Society of Authors, Victoria University Press, and the literary journals Landfall and Sport. We are grateful for their ongoing commitment to young New Zealand writers.

Read previous winning and shortlisted poems here.

Find out how to enter.