Maya Angelou Essay Contest

Update - Contest is now closed. Winners will be announced on Dr. Angelou's would-be 90th birthday, April 4, 2018. Thank you for entering!  

We are so honored to partner with the Caged Bird Legacy to commemorate Dr. Maya Angelou’s 90th birthday with a poetry contest!


The “Continue” Poetry Contest is sponsored by Storiarts and Caged Bird Legacy to commemorate Dr. Maya Angelou’s 90th birthday.

This is a free contest. No entry fee is required. Submissions are only accepted Jan. 15, 2018 to Feb. 15, 2018 at 5:00 pm PST. Submissions outside of this duration will not be accepted due to volume of submissions.


“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.” ― Dr. Maya Angelou

Read the full poem here.

Theme: Describe what continuing Dr. Angelou’s legacy means to you.

Open to poems of all styles–rhyming, free verse, haiku in 15 lines or fewer.

Contest entries must be at least 3 but cannot exceed 15 lines (including stanza breaks) and cannot exceed 55 characters per line (including spaces between words). Any submission that exceeds these limits will be automatically disqualified. The poem title does not count as a line.

Photo by @astoldbymichelle.


  • Limit one poetry submission per person. Submissions cannot be changed.
  • Submissions are accepted only by Google Form. All other submissions will not be accepted.
  • Poet must be at least thirteen years of age.
  • Please send only unpublished work.The entry must not infringe the copyright, trademark, privacy, publicity or other intellectual property rights of any person or entity.
  • Due to the large volume of submissions we receive, we cannot offer individual critique.
  • All poems must be submitted in English.
  • The entry must not be lewd, obscene, sexually explicit, pornographic, disparaging, defamatory, libelous or otherwise inappropriate or objectionable, as determined by the Judges and/or Sponsor in their sole and absolute discretion. Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any entry it deems inappropriate.


  • Grand Prize: Your poem on a custom Storiarts Book Scarf + ‘Still I Rise’ Bundle (Scarf and Writing Gloves) + Limited Edition ‘Continue’ Pillow Case
  • 1st Place: ‘Still I Rise’ Bundle (Scarf and Writing Gloves) + Limited Edition “Continue” Pillow Case
  • 2nd Place: ‘Still I Rise’ Book Scarf + Limited Edition “Continue” Pillow Case


Contest entries are judged based on poetic technique, style, creativity and theme. Entries will be reviewed by both Storiarts and Caged Bird Legacy.

Please submit your work here! Happy writing and good luck!

Browse our 'Still I Rise' collection.

ANNOUNCING: 5th Annual BE INSPIRED Essay Contest

0 Comments | Contest, News, Programs for Girls, Resources and Opportunities

Photo – 2016 Winners: Meriem Boukaabar (left), 3rd Place winner in the 7th-8th grade group, with her sister, Yamna Boukaabar (right), 1st Place winner in the 9th-12th grade group.

Girls Coalition is proud to announce the 5th Annual BE INSPIRED Essay Contest, presented by UPMC.

The BE INSPIRED Essay Contest provides regional youth with an opportunity to consider the legacy of female changemakers past and present. Kicking off at the end of Women’s History Month, this year’s contest honors the work of Maya Angelou and encourages participating students to write about a female changemaker who embodies the legacy of Ms. Angelou and who demonstrates a strong commitment to social justice and equality.

The contest is open to ALL students in grades 6 – 12 in the Southwest PA region and features CASH prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners across age groups. Winners will also have the opportunity to attend a celebration event hosted by Girls Coalition.

Hop on over to our Resources and Opportunities page to check out the full contest details and download and share the official contest details with your family, friends, professional, and social media networks!

For all contest questions and inquiries, please contact

We look forward to reading your submissions!

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