River of Words: Youth Art and Poetry Inspired by the Natural World

Our free, annual, international youth poetry and art contest — the largest in the world — inspires children ages 5 to 19 to translate their observations into creative expression.

2020 Deadlines and Mailing Addresses

Student and Facilitator Online Entry forms are currently closed. We will start accepting 2020 ROW entries on September 1st, 2019

  • USA entries must be postmarked by December 1, 2019
  • International entries must be received by February 1, 2020

mail art and physical submissions to:

River of Words
1928 Saint Mary’s Road PMB 5060
Moraga, CA 94575

The contest is free! Your students may enter on their own, or through their school, or youth organization. We accept poems in English and Spanish.

Please review the mailing instructions below.

River of Words Contest Rules & Guidelines

  1. River of Words® (ROW) is a program of The Center for Environmental Literacy and a part of the Kalmanovitz School of Education, at Saint Mary’s College of California. 
  2. The contest is open to K through 12th grade students, ages 5-20. Students must be enrolled in school to be eligible.  All entries must be submitted by a parent, guardian, educator, or facilitator unless the student is 18 years old or older.
  3. Students may enter the contest as many times as they like. Teachers/Facilitators should submit all the Group entries from their classes together. Every group entry MUST include a Facilitator Form (completed by the facilitator) and a class list. Please note: Student names only need to be posted on the class list once, even if the student submits multiple entries. Class lists do not need to be split into art and poetry sections. For each student entry within the Group, the parent or legal guardian’s consent must also be included.
  4. All entrants will be acknowledged with a Watershed Explorer Certificate.
  5. When submitting entry through the mail with a Paper Student Entry Form, one paper entry form should be attached to each artwork or poem, fastened back-to-back, glued, taped or printed double sided. The second page of the Student Entry form titled “PARENTAL CONSENT AND GRANT AND RELEASE OF SUBMISSION RIGHTS” must be included with the entry. No staples or paperclips.
  6. When submitting entry online through the Online Student Entry Form, you will receive an email confirmation within the hour of submission. Poems can be uploaded through the Online Entry Form, however all artwork and photography must be mailed. Print the first page of the Email Confirmation of the completed Online Student Entry Form and affixed it to the back of each piece of artwork with glue or tape (be careful not to damage the artwork) — do not use paperclips or staples!
  7. All poems must be original work.
    1. Physical poetry submissions must be either typed or legibly written in ink (not pencil) and mailed with a completed Paper Entry Form.
    2. Poems should not exceed 32 lines in length (written) or 3 minutes (signed). For ASL poetry, please include a brief written summary of the poem’s content, and glue or staple this summary to your entry form.
    3. Collaborative poems are accepted, but only one student (chosen as the group representative) will be eligible for any prizes awarded. 
    4. At this time, we are able to accept poems only in English and Spanish.
  8. All artwork must be original work. 
    1. Artwork should not exceed 11” by 17” in size-no exceptions. 
    2. Acceptable media are paint, pencil, markers, ink, crayon, chalk or pastel (fixed), photography, cloth, collage and computer art. (Photo entries must be at least 8×10 inches.)
    3. All art entries must be mailed. All entries must have the student’s name, school, city and state on the back — do not use a marker or anything that will show through!
    4. We do not accept color copies—all entries must be original work.
    5. Art entries must be done on paper that will allow for duplication, display or framing. Please, no notebook or typing paper, and do not mat, mount, laminate, frame or fold artwork. 
    6. Entries must be mailed flat or rolled in a tube — no folding, please!
  9. Submitted work will not be returned unless specifically requested. To learn more, please email rowinfo@stmarys-ca.edu.
    1. All U.S. entries (Georgia and Arizona excluded) must be postmarked by December 1.
    2. International entries must be received by February 1. 
    3. We are not responsible for entries that are late or lost in the mail. Entries received after the deadline will be automatically entered in the next scheduled contest.
  11. River of Words reserves the exclusive right to decide not to not hold contests, and in such case, also reserves the right not to return submitted work.
  12. Winners will be announced in April of each year.
  13. *River of Words reserves the right to not award a Grand Prize winner in any given category if no entry merits such designation.

*River of Words reserves the right to not award a Grand Prize winner in any given category if no entry merits such designation. 

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