Poetry Contests

Palo Alto Students Foundation Poetry Contest 2022

Calling all poets! Write what's on your mind. Turn your observations of the world and your reflections on all the wonders into poems. Our poetry contest is open to everyone and free to enter! Winners in each age group will receive a gift card and a certificate.


  • Free style, open topics, limited to 300 words.

  • Submissions must be original, previously unpublished poetry.

  • You may enter up to two poems per entry.

  • Please enter your cover letter with your name, grade, school and the title of your submission into our email. DO NOT include your name on the pages of your submission. Any poems with identifying material will be disqualified.

  • Deadline for submissions is April 11, 2022. Winners will be announced by April 25, 2022.

  • Submit your poem(s) to admin@paloaltostudents.org. Or fill in the form we sent out in our poster.

Updated on April 25, 2022 : due to the amount of the high quality poems we received, the judges need more time to review and decide the winners. We take each poet's work seriously. The contest results will be announced in the next couple of weeks. Thanks for your patience!


  • Preschool - 6th grade

  • 7th grade - 12th grade

  • Adults

Announcing the Student Winners!

updated on May 8th, 2022

We received entries from twenty schools in Palo Alto and the surrounding areas. While the number of awards are limited, the talent in our community is massive! We definitely have a big group of wonderful young poets in town. Congratulations to all the winners! If you didn't win an award this time, please try again next year! Keep writing and we look forward to reading your new poems soon!

Here is the complete list of the student winners. Please fill out the Poets' survey for award claiming and award-winning poetry publication choices.


Esther Lin

Esther Lin was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant for 21 years. She is the author of The Ghost Wife, winner of the 2017 Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Fellowship, and was awarded the Crab Orchard Review’s 2018 Richard Peterson Poetry Prize. She was 2017–19 Wallace Stegner Fellow and currently organizes for the Undocupoets, which promotes the work of undocumented poets and raises consciousness about the structural barriers that they face in the literary community. In fall 2020, she became a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center, in Provincetown, MA.

(Updated on May 8th): Esther happened to be traveling in the UK during the poetry reviewing process. She was unable to be on the judges' panel this year. However, we are lucky to have two of Esther's Poetry Workshop students Gloria Marmor and Michael Marmor take her place. We really appreciate Gloria and Michael's expertise as well as the time they volunteered for the Poetry Contest! Thank you!

Xiaoyan Zhao Drasnin

Xiaoyan grew up in China where she was sent to a village to do manual labor before she turned eighteen. After the Cultural Revolution, she was one of the first mainland Chinese to study at Stanford University (Ph.D. Communication, 1987). With her research spanning 60+ countries, Xiaoyan has delivered presentations on all continents about cultural values and social change to clients including The World Bank, United Nations Peacekeeping, Washington DC diplomatic community, and Global Summit of Women.

After almost three decades of a career with a global team headquartered in New York, she is now working on creative writing projects including a novel which takes place in 1960's China. Xiaoyan has attended the Stanford Creative Writing workshops and the Northern California Writers’ Retreat. She has lived in New York, Hong Kong, and Silicon Valley with her husband, a CBS News and PBS journalist and documentary filmmaker (https://irvdrasnin.net).

Patricia Williams

Growing up in New Jersey, Patricia Williams dreamed of becoming a writer. Before graduating high school, she won two city-wide essay contests. She wrote short stories and poetry and planned on moving to the Village in NYC along with other aspiring writers to fulfill her dream. Fortunately reason prevailed and she became an educator earning an MA, an MBA and a Doctorate in Accounting. After teaching French and English for a number of years, she decided to change careers. She taught accounting for 17 years at Fordham University. Williams has presented papers at conferences in Europe, Asia and North America and published more than 20 peer-reviewed articles in academic journals as well as book reviews and chapters in scholarly publications.

In retirement, Patricia Williams has published two works of fiction: “The Two Weddings of Zhao Ping”, a cross-cultural, contemporary woman’s novel, and E-Vengeance, a mystery. Currently, she is working on her third novel, a romance set in Paris, which was published in 2021.

In addition to writing, she spends her time in retirement traveling, visiting family and friends, and in her happy place–dancing.

"Poems give you the lives of others and then circle in on your own inner world."

Frances Mayes

“If I read a book and it makes my whole body so cold no fire can warm me I know that is poetry. If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry. These are the only way I know it. Is there any other way?”

Emily Dickinson