The Sonnet Contest

Words, words, words

Shakespeare’s sonnets, 154 in all, demonstrate his mastery of the English language in a way that some of us might appreciate, if not fully understand, and perhaps even want to imitate.

With this in mind, the Southern Shakespeare Company, in partnership with the Tallahassee Democrat, will hold its SIXTH ANNUAL SONNET CONTEST in 2020.  

The contest will run March 5th through May 5th providing an opportunity for folks to write like the Bard!

There will be three categories: COLLEGE/ADULT, HIGH SCHOOL, and  MIDDLE SCHOOL.

Prizes are valued over $1,000!

So, what precisely is a sonnet? Shakespeare wrote 14 line sonnets that follow a specific rhythmic pattern of iambic pentameter and an ABAB CDCD EFEF GG rhyme scheme.

Shakespeare wrote sonnets about love, loss, and beauty, but our sonnet contest writers wrote about most ANY subject of their choosing…and had some great fun! 

Sonnets can be submitted to Category (Middle, High School or Adult) AND contact information must be included with your submission.

If you have any questions, please feel free to check our FAQs page or reach us at!


The 2019 Sonnet Contest finalists were published in the Tallahassee Democrat on May 10, 2019. To view the article, click here.

Congratulations to our Middle School Finalists!


Himank Chhaya

Sonnet: Covid-19: Animals vs. Humans 

The coronavirus is some boredom
Having to stay inside all of the time,
Trying to immerse yourself in fandom
Of Star Wars, Politics, or maybe mimes?
Nature rejoices, finally happy
“Oh me, oh my! No humans are in sight!”
Says the animals, already snappy
“We have suffered too long, this is our right!”
Humans, watching inside, sigh heavily
And wonder, “Why did we do this to Earth?” “We are taking revenge!” Cries the bevy
Of animals, and they pound on the hearth
In conclusion, the Earth is happy, why? Because the humans, yes, are much less spry

Oliver Jacobs

Big Bend Swamp

A rustle on the forest floor reveals
a nudge of a leaf; what’s hiding in the fen?
The signs show a swimmer with scales like keels. Eyes like gold, a creature of the bend.
The skin soft, growing, an illusion found. The pattern, order within the chaos.
The litter among the roots, above ground. And under, a hole has formed in the moss.
The river tumbles, the roots shear, a cliff Atop this construction a patterned coil, Turtles, below, sat on a log adrift.
A graceful arrow dives into the roil.
Fishes run, and grasses sway in the lake This is the life of the brown water snake.

Nico Johnston


These quite impressive machines of beauty Fly from here to there, or to anywhere
For tons of money, could be yours, truly For some, too expensive, too much to bear
Up, up, and away, I say at takeoff
Whizzing past the clouds, we soar, and we soar Up into the sky is where we drift off
Look out the window, you’ll never be bored
Jets or propellers, which one should I choose? Thousands of miles, how far did we go?
Is it of matter? I just want to cruise
Man, this airplane has just put on a show
As we prepare for landing, sad to leave On the plus side, we’re here, in Tel-Aviv

Congratulations to the High School Finalists!

in alphabetical order

Grace Stage

Seven Sisters

Seven sisters married seven brothers
All after their husbands’ crowns and estates
Disguised as dutiful wives and lovers
While devising each other’s wretched fates
Hidden in each girl was a vicious harpy
Whose lone goal was to live and rule as queen
To exude greatness in every heartbeat
To conquer all through cunning tricks and schemes
They had their petty squabbles and contests
And underwhelming battles of the wit
Yet not one ever seemed to pass the rest
To reach the throne where they all wished to sit
Before they knew it, the queen was no more
In her place, the young girl who’d done their chores

Isabella Guerrero


I am always getting on a big stage
Blood feels like it’s rushing all through my veins Pretending to be full of angst and rage
Testing my stamina and my smart brain
Memorizing and performing a dance Butterflies fill my stomach, starts to ache Hope that I don’t miss my cue and my chance Hoping that I really bring home the cake
When I get on stage my heart starts to sing Feeling as though I could run and take flight Hearing my voice throughout the theater ring Seeing my friends at the end of the night
Joking around and singing our heads off Laughing so hard that we all start to cough

Vash Ho


Unaccustomed to this chamber here, I cry with anger hoping to be free,
Death rallied his children, soon I am near, For wanting to be free, oh lord my greed;
Day and night, a little farther I go, Little do I know, death is here to come, A little peek out, just give me a show,
But then he is here, where did he come from?
He creeps, soon not to be shown anywhere I finally left, I set foot outside,
But then I saw him once again, no air,
He then grabs me, then brings me to the side;
I looked at him and gave out a big cry, He told me to not go out, or I’ll die.

Congratulations to the College/Adult Finalists!

in alphabetical order

Bob Gibbs

To Beauty

Beauty is changing her wardrobe for me as years dissolve before my aging eyes pictures of perfection I sought to see
in a younger time believing the lies.
That was a day when snapshots were the rule, when posing was the chosen way of life, when eyes in their beholding was the tool that carved the shape of beauty like a knife.
Now, wiser vision forms another view deeper than skin revealing soul and heart, a panoramic pallet ever new,
colors and hues that shade a Master’s art.
That beauty, over time, as light recedes, moves into gentle words and loving deeds.

Mike Mesterton-Gibbons

The Blonde Twins: An Acrostic Sonnet

The Blonde Twins are a wonder to behold:
Hell hath no fury like the Donald scorned.
Earth shudders at the barefaced lies he’s told.
Beelzebub tells lies less double-horned——
Less frequent, less unhinged, less pants-on-fire.
Off ev’ry scale we know lie Donald’s fibs, Next to the whoppers Boris doth transpire, Dissembling quite as bigly as his nibs.
Exactly like two podded peas are they
To such extent, one wonders of each gene: Why is it like the other’s? Twinning? Nay, In years of age they differ by eighteen!
Nay, nothing can explain the likeness spun
Save Don’s the dad, and Boris is the son!

Thomas Robert Moore

Covid-19, We Shan’t Your Plot Embrace

This is a Quest ‘bout Shared Mortality.
The catalyst – the Plague we now perceive.
Each asks, “Am I to be or not to be?”
Our species’ angst: to die or freely breathe.
Deaths doom not human life to end. What bends Belief quite comforts us and heals our hearts.
One’s Faith doth lend souls’ Hope and softly sends Word that eternal life on death, just starts.
Covid-19, we shan’t Your Plot embrace.
We’ll halt your spread and multiple re-births.
We’ll soon safely share our flight through space.
We’ll grieve for those we’ve lost, survive your curse.
Consider all the worlds God’s hand hath made.
Stay safe each day – for e’er – ‘midst stars displayed.


Previous Winners