Illinois Center for the Book

Illinois Emerging Writers Competition

Photo of 2015 Emerging Writers Competition winners
2016 Emerging Writers Competition winners with State Library Acting Deputy Director Greg McCormick and Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein.

Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award

Named for the late Pulitzer Prize winner and Illinois Poet Laureate Gwendolyn Brooks, the Illinois Emerging Writers Competition provides a unique opportunity and outlet for recognizing new literary talent in the state. The competition is open to Illinois residents age 18 and over, and has an annual entry deadline of June 30.

Cash prizes are awarded for first ($500), second ($300) and third place ($100), and winning poems are submitted for possible publication in Illinois literary magazines, including:

2017 Illinois Emerging Writers Competition – Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award

There is a $20 entry fee. The entry deadline is June 30, 2017.

2016 Illinois Emerging Writers Competition – Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award Winners

The winners of the twelfth annual Illinois Emerging Writers Competition were announced by Secretary of State and State Librarian Jesse White on December 19, 2016. Read the complete press release.

1st – Jeanne Genis of St. Joseph for her poem Finch (For Brigit in Illinois)
2nd – Whittney Jones of Harrisburg for her poem The Price of Coal
3rd – Rochelle Zappia of Des Plaines for her poem Don’t Ever Let Them Sing


Final Judge: Illinois Poet Laureate, Kevin Stein

Past Illinois Emerging Writers Competition Winners

The State Library gratefully acknowledges Illinois Poet Laureate Kevin Stein for his continued support in making this competition possible.