The 2016-17 Statewide Writing Contest

Brooks Miller wins the 2016-17 writing contest!

We are thrilled to announce that Casco Bay High School student Brooks Miller is the winner of our 2016-17 statewide writing contest.  A panel of judges chose his poem out of over 200 entries from all corners of Maine. Brooks will be published in the May 2017 issue of Maine Magazine and will be awarded a $200 cash prize at our 2017 Big Night Event.

Thank you to the many talented writers who submitted stories and poems this year. We loved reading them and look forward to hearing from you again next winter!

Here is Brooks' winning poem:


Of a Conversation We Cannot Finish

Dear Grandfather,
Dear Professor of Biology,
Dear Ex-Wild-Life Society President,
Dear My Christian Zealot,
Today, I pose a question:
You’re the smartest man I know
And despite all the knowledge you have,
You still pledge to a god who hates your grandson?

Your words are a bug in my ear
–No, not just a bug–
You speak, and bugs crawl on my skin.
There's no substance to your words
Like hot water without tea,
Hot water diluted with turned milk.

With anger behind your words
You tell me I look like a girl.
Stunned and embarrassed in the parking lot of a hotel,
My identity is in question.
You tell me to cut my hair,
Your words wasting air.

“Your generation has an interesting identity.”
“Your generation emasculated.”
“Your generation phone addicted.”
“Your generation social media inflicted.”
And yet we are the most active
Wielders of the Internet. How can you doubt us?

You and I are hatred, we are opinions,
Hatred and opinions that tear us from love.
Words like shots, we hurl at each other.
We are a dove with a bullet in its heart.

But as we drive to the wrong theater
Between our laughs and radio

I hate small talk,
Little talk, the pointless talk,
The “how is the weather” talk,
The work break-room talk,
The worst kind of talk.

I like big talk.
Big talk, deep talk,
The "do you fear death?” talk,
The perfect silence talk,
The good talk.

I’m sorry but we need an intervention.
This has gone on too long and we need to talk.


The 2017 Theme: Encounter: an unexpected meeting between people or things that creates a positive or negative change

This year’s writing contest theme was ENCOUNTERS. In the past, we have explored the ideas of neighborhoods, place, food, belief, water, time, and more. With this year’s theme, we had our senses honed and trained on unexpected meetings with someone or something; the experience of coming face-to-face with something or someone unexpectedly. This year’s theme acted as a great canvass to explore the many ways we encounter our world, each other, ourselves, The Other, the unknown, the ordinary, and even mystery.

Prompt Ideas:

  • Envision a character who has a surprising encounter with a memory. In a poem or story, show how this encounter affects your character’s future.
  • Write a poem about an encounter with a new culture, language, or environment.
  • Tell the story of a surprising encounter you have had or have witnessed. 
  • Imagine meeting someone or something you have never met and how your life might change afterward.
  • Set two characters in a strange enviroment. Describe how they respond to it and to eachother.


About the contest:

Our annual contest allows students to show off their writing chops! The contest runs from December-February each year.


Writing Contest Rules

  • All submissions should be related to the annual theme.
  • Entrants must be from Maine in grades 6-12 during the school year, or, if home-schooled, between the ages of 11 and 18.

  • Poems must be 40 lines or fewer, in any form. Prose pieces should be 750 words or fewer.
  • Send your submission to Attach your story as a .doc or .rtf file, or paste it into the body of the email.

  • Include this information with your submission: Name, Age, School, Email Address, Phone Number, Parents Names, Mailing Address.
  • Submitting to our contest constitutes an agreement to be published in our annual anthology.



  • A panel of professional writers will select one grand prize winner.
  • The grand prize winner will be published in the May issue of Maine Magazine.
  • A $200 cash prize will be awarded to the grand-prize winner.
  • The grand-prize winner will be invited to read their piece at our Big Night Event.


Listen to Siri Piece, our 2015-16 grand prize winner!

Siri Pierce, Portland - "Wings"


Listen to Lizzy Lemieux, our 2014-15 grand prize winner!

Lizzy Lemieux, Gorham - "The Presumpscot Baptism of a Jewish Girl: After Hanel Baveja"


Listen to the winners of the 2013-14 contest read their work:

Kaitlyn Knight, Rome - "I Am Not Wild"

Alicia Thurston, Topsham - "Astriferous"


Listen to the winners of the 2012-13 contest read their work:

Meghan Lane, Rockport - "Prelude in A Minor"

Mary McColley, Berwick - "Lapti"