2016 Poetry Prize

This year's theme is

Top-scoring entries
(Free verse track)
Top-scoring entries
(Rhyming track)
Support GroupKristy Gonzalez
(Decatur, GA, USA)
Floating PicturesSeth Ruderman
(Wayne, NJ, USA)
SingularitiesKen Nolan
(Morris, CT, USA)
Small TownStoryteller (Forum screen name)
Imperial Inertia in CambodiaAmy Houchen
(Portland, OR, USA)
Sundays with Anaximander J. David Franks
(Boston, MA, USA)
Rising in PòtoprensChristopher J. Buckley
(Long Island, NY, USA)
Tethered to the Landtugcaptmark (Forum screen name)
(Knightdale, NC, USA)
Ballad of Eric GarnerJoe Cabrera
(Columbus, OH, USA)
My Dream of Being a Leaf-Cutter AntMartin Eister
(New Hartford, CT, USA)

Honorable mentions
The Great Guinea Pig Debate
In the Kabul Bazaar
White Stones: A Paternal History
Two Rooms and a Bath
Welcome to Berlin
Me too

Thank you to the 2000+ poets who contributed a poem to the community, and thank you to the judges for this year's contest -- Fritz Holznagel, Claudia Perry, and Lauren Singer -- for their work over the past month. Thanks as well to RhymeZone Forum member pipersfancy, one of last year's winners, who provided extensive guidance and encouragement to the Forum community this year. pipersfancy also penned some excellent entries including Inuit Behind Glass and The Muslim Refugee.

See also the winners from 2014-2015.

The original 2016 contest announcement follows, below.

RhymeZone will make unconditional grants totalling $5,000 to 10 authors of thought-provoking poetry.


The submission deadline is Tuesday, April 12, 2016 and winners will be announced on Sunday, May 15, 2016.

How to Enter

Compose an original poem related to the theme of Community and share it with the RhymeZone community by posting it to the RhymeZone 2016 Poetry Prize Entries section of the RhymeZone Forum. (View more detailed instructions)

Judging Criteria

Poems will be judged on the basis of how thought-provoking, well-crafted, and original they are, and how well they adhere to the theme of Community. All entries must be original poems that have not won any award previously. Ten winners will be selected from the bunch by May 15, with each winner awarded $500 USD. Five of the ten winners will be selected from the entries that adhere to (any) rhyme scheme, and five will be selected from the rest.

Why a Poetry Prize?

It's our annual thank-you to the poetry community which has been so supportive of RhymeZone over the years—and also a way to encourage the writing of more great verse. Last year's contest was a great success, with over 3500 entries submitted on the theme of Understanding.

See below for detailed rules and guidelines.

OFFICIAL CONTEST RULES for the 2016 RhymeZone Poetry Prize


This poetry contest (the “Contest”) is sponsored by Datamuse Corp, Bluffton SC, 29910 USA (the “Sponsor”).



The Contest begins at 12:01:00 am Eastern Time (“ET”) on January 10, 2016, and ends at 11:59:59 pm ET on April 12, 2016. Entries submitted after April 12, 2016 are not eligible. Incomplete submissions or submissions sent outside the contest entry period will not be considered.


Participation in the Contest constitutes applicant’s full and unconditional agreement to and acceptance of these Official Rules. By entering the Contest, applicant warrants that the submission is an original work, has not been previously published or won any award, and that applicant is aware of no conflicting rights in the submission including but not limited to copyright or other intellectual property right as further identified below in the section entitled “No Infringement.” Applicants agree that Sponsor, its affiliates, parents, subsidiaries, agents or contractors and their employees, officers and directors shall not be liable for injury, loss or damage of any kind resulting from participating in this Contest.


All submissions must be the original work of the applicant. All applicants represent, state, and agree that their Contest submission will not infringe upon the intellectual property rights of any third party, including by way of example and not by limitation, any copyright, trademark or patent rights belonging to any third party. Plagiarism in any form will result in disqualification.


All submissions, including the winning submissions, remain the property of the applicant before and after the Contest. Sponsor claims no ownership of the applicant's work. We will announce the winners on the RhymeZone.com website by linking to the submission's page on the RhymeZone Forum site, and will include biographical information about the author only with the author's permission.



The Winners will be selected on the basis of how (1) thought-provoking, (2) well-crafted, and (3) distinctive their poems are, relative to other submissions received by the Contest deadline, and also on (4) how well the submission adheres to the theme of “Community”. The winners will be selected at the sole discretion of judges employed by the Sponsor, and their decisions are final.

Five winners of the ten will be selected from entries that employ a rhyme scheme. (For the purpose of this contest, any recognizable rhyme scheme is eligible; see Wikipedia for examples.) The remaining five winners will be selected from entries that do not employ a recognizable rhyme scheme.

The RhymeZone Forum is a convenient way for the community of RhymeZone users to “like” and to discuss the Contest submissions. While the Contest judges will consider these “likes” and discussions as a measure of each submission's popularity, the Judges will ultimately use their collective judgment to decide on the winners of the Contest.


The Winners will be notified by email no later than May 15, 2016. The email address used for notification will be the email address associated with the RhymeZone Forum account created by the entrant. The Winner will also be announced on RhymeZone.com on or before May 15, 2016.


Winning is contingent upon fulfilling all requirements of these Official Rules and Sponsor's decisions as to the administration of the Contest and prize awards are final. Sponsor will notify the potential Winner on or about May 15, 2016, in accordance with the information provided by applicant in the Contest entry. In the event that an applicant’s email address changes, it is the applicant's responsibility to notify Sponsor of such change. The potential Winner, or where the potential Winner is a minor, the potential Winner's parent or guardian, must sign and return an Affidavit of Eligibility Release (except where prohibited by law) within seven (7) days of receipt of those documents or the prize may be forfeited. In the event that any prize notification is undeliverable, Sponsor is unable to contact a potential winner, or response to a prize notification is not received within seven (7) days of its issuance, the prize may be forfeited. Where a prize is forfeited, the applicant with the next best submission in accordance with the Judging Criteria will be chosen as an alternate Winner.

Because this is a Contest of skill, the odds of winning depend upon the quality and eligibility of the submissions received, as well as the number of entrants. Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, modify or suspend the Contest should fraud, technical failures, or any other factors beyond the reasonable control of Sponsor impair the integrity of the Contest, as determined by Sponsor in its sole discretion. By entering the contest, entrant agrees to release and hold harmless sponsor, its parent, subsidiaries and affiliated companies, officers, directors, employees and agents from and against any and all claims, causes of action and/or liability for any injuries, illness or death, loss or damage of any kind arising from or in connection with participation in and/or entry into the Contest or receipt or possession, use or misuse of any prize or element thereof. Sponsor, its respective affiliates, parents, subsidiaries, agents and employees are not responsible for late, lost, illegible, incomplete, stolen, misdirected, illegitimate, or impermissible submissions or mail; postage due mail; or any other error whether human, mechanical or electronic.


A copy of these Official Rules and the Winners' names may be obtained by visiting www.rhymezone.com/contest/2016rules.pdf or by sending a self-addressed stamped envelope to Datamuse at the address given above. Contest results will be available by May 15, 2016, and requests must be received by August 15, 2016.




Ask us through this feedback form.

Some Non-legalese About the Contest