Sonnet Contest

Established in 2014, our annual Sonnet Contest inspires (and rewards) writers around the world. This year, we accepted entries January 1 – February 29 in two categories: Sonnets and Tallahassee Poems. Submissions came in from as far away as Ireland and India, and the winners of each category are below!

Join us on the evening of Friday, May 10 at Cascades Park in Tallahassee, Florida to hear these winning words read for the audience prior to our FREE nightly performance of The Winter’s Tale!

Congratulations 2024
Sonnet Contest Winners!

Middle School Winner

“Pollution: A Celestial Tragedy”

by Aleena Ahmed (She/Her)

In twilight’s glow, the stars once brightly beamed,

celestial threads, a wondrous tapestry’s light,

but now obscured, their brilliance deemed

invisible and lost, swallowed by the city’s blight.

Pollution’s grip, a smothering embrace,

tears our community with its sharp blade,

the stars, once guides, now are torn with disgrace,

cosmic whispers, silenced by man’s cruel raid.

The heavens weep for what humans have done,

in our quest for progress, we lost our way,

a price too high, the cost beneath the sun,

as darkness soars, the stars no longer sway.

Together, let’s cleanse pollution’s lasting stain,

to let the stars reclaim their rightful reign.

Special Thanks

“Thank you to my English teacher Mrs. Adams for introducing me to this contest. I’ve begun to develop a liking for poetry!”

2nd Place: “Guilt” by Sophia Stoutamire (She/Her)

3rd Place: “I love food so much it makes me happy!” by Taige Leathers (She/Her)

High School Winner

“To the Artists of the World”

by Caroline Cox (She/Her) 

How can one be creative in this time?

Has the art of art been lost with poets past?

Catullus and Horace poems do rhyme,

While the works of Keats and Shakespeare be vast.

Must modern poets echo these classics–

Such Virgil did to distinguished Homer

And too the artists of such famed graphics

Yet these could simply be misnomer

They were original after all– these

Artists merely inspired, as all must

Be– and so creatives do as you please,

Work from these pieces lest they turn to dust

Thus artists of this day to you I urge:

Study these works and your muse may emerge.

2nd Place: “Sonnet V” by Noodle (She/Her) 

3rd Place: “As something falls, another must then rise” by Levi Bennett (He/Him)

Adult Winner


by Shane Leavy (He/Him)

I’m sweeping the yard at my parents’ home.

Sweat prickles my head; I drag the wire brush

through rank, brown leaves, half-rotted back to loam.

Dusk falls as I work. Birdsong falls to hush.

A podcast plays. My back will ache tonight,

my hips, my arms. Ten crescent arcs of soil

are clogging my nails. This smell: I delight

in the earthy stench of this dust-damp toil.

‘Cos things decay, the yard gives ground to dirt,

things rot. The garden falls to weed and briar,

mould splatters walls, and unless we avert

the course then all things burn: the world’s a pyre.

Night falls in my parents’ yard. It stands, clean.

I ache, I’m sweat-drenched, sore, my heart serene.

2nd Place: “Reversion” by Shamik Banerjee (He/Him)

3rd Place: “Arboreal Echoes” by Daniel Moreschi (He/Him)

Tallahassee Poems Winner

“Tallahassee’s a town of great heart”

by Miriam Hall (She/Her)

Tallahassee’s a town of great heart,

Of theatre, and music, and art!

Two hundred years in,

We can say with a grin

That our knowledge surpasses Descartes!

2nd Place: “Love Tallahassee” by Jake Askey (He/Him)

3rd Place: “Tallahassee, city of culture” by Samia Khan (She/Her)

2024 Sonnet Contest Judges


Terri Carrion is a first generation American conceived in Venezuela and born in New York to a Galician mother and Cuban father. She earned her MFA from Florida International University. Her poetry, fiction, translations, art, and photography have been widely published in print and online, including The Cream City Review, Hanging Loose, Pearl, Penumbra, Exquisite Corpse, Mangrove, Jack, Mipoesia, and Dead Drunk Dublin, among others. Terri Carrion is co-founder of the global grassroots movement 100 Thousand Poets for Change and is Board President of Anhinga Press. She is also on the Board of Directors of Poets In Need, and treasurer for the advocacy group, Friends of Lake Jackson.


David Kirby teaches at Florida State University. His latest books are a poetry collection, Help Me, Information, and a textbook modestly entitled The Knowledge: Where Poems Come From and How to Write Them. Kirby is the author of Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll, which the Times Literary Supplement described as “a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense.” Entertainment Weekly has called Kirby’s poetry one of “5 Reasons to Live.” In 2016, Kirby received a Lifetime Achievement Award from Florida Humanities, which called him “a literary treasure of our state.”


Virgil Suárez was born in Havana, Cuba in 1962. At the age of twelve he arrived in the United States.  He received an MFA from Louisiana State University in 1987. He is the author of ten collections of poetry, most recently 90 Miles: Selected and New and The Paintied Bunting’s Last Molt, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. His work has appeared in a multitude of magazines and journals in the United States and internationally. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for The Arts Grant and a Florida Arts Grant. He lives with his wife and co-editor, Delia Poey, and they make their home in Florida. His most recent book is Amerikan Chernobyl, available from


Rick Minor was elected to the Leon County Board of County Commissioners in August 2018 and took office in November. He represents the citizens of County District 3 and is focused on reducing crime, growing our economy by helping businesses bring quality jobs to District 3 and the County, protecting the environment, and ensuring that our local government performs at the highest ethical standards.

For more information about Comm. Minor’s work, visit his official site.