A Poetry Challenge for National Poetry Month

In honor of National Poetry Month, the Wordsmith of the city is throwing down a challenge to all you other wordsmiths and poets. Write a poem—Tell it!—about our fair city, Tampa, otherwise known as T-Town, the Big Guava, Gasparilla Queen, Home of the Bolts, Super Bowl Host-with-the-Most, —whatever you like to call her.

Think about it. Poems about places are ubiquitous. Some of them define key characteristics or focus on famous landmarks. Some poems focus on geography and the natural world. Some buzz with the frenzy of the city. Some sing out the beauty of a place, while other poems worry over injustices.

So, we want to hear from you! Selected poem(s) may be featured as part of a public art installation!

Follow these guidelines – Your written or spoken word poem should be:

  • No longer than one page/ two minutes
  • Rhymed or unrhymed
  • Free of language that would be unsuitable for your – and our –grandmother

The deadline to submit your poem is midnight on Shakespeare’s birthday—that is, April 23rd. Best poems, as chosen by Gianna Russo, the Wordsmith, will be announced by May 23, 2021. See below to submitCarl Sandburg’s famous poem “Chicago” assigns the city different monikers and titles:

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders

The opening of “South” by former US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey begins with nature:

I returned to a stand of pines,
bone-thin phalanx
flanking the roadside, tangle
of understory—a dialectic of dark
and light—and magnolias blossoming
like afterthought:

Florida poet Campbell McGrath’s praise-poem about the Everglades, begins with metaphor

Green and blue and white, it is a flag
for Florida stitched by hungry ibises.

It is a paradise of flocks, a cornucopia
of wind and grass and dark, slow waters.

Orlando Poet Laureate Susan Lilley includes this ode-like description in her poem for Orlando:

In early spring, camellias give up their glory
to azaleas, their masses of blooms
giving grace to the apartment complex,
the mansion, the bungalow,
the shopping plaza, the highway median.

Submit your poem on the City of Tampa website: https://www.tampa.gov/form/national-poetry-month

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