A poem is like a window—even a small one can show us the world.
The goal of the My Town Mississippi Poetry Project is to help students experience the joy and accomplishment that can come from writing poetry, and from amplifying their own voices, words, and experiences. Students from grades K-12 across the state are invited to write poems about their hometowns in response to a prompt. We hope to receive poems from the Delta and the Gulf, the Red Clay Hills and the Black Prairie, small towns, cities, and everywhere in between, representing the many individual experiences of students across our state.
Each participating school will select three winning poems per grade, which will be sent on to the statewide competition; homeschoolers are also invited to enter (see Instructions for Homeschoolers below). All school-level winners will be invited to attend the Mississippi Young Writers Poetry Festival, to be held in April 2023 on the Mississippi State campus in Starkville, and will have their winning poems published in the festival anthology.
Poetry is for everyone. There’s no wrong way to write a poem, and words can be a tremendous source of delight, play, and comfort. We hope this project will offer a joyful and creative outlet for students and educators alike.
We can’t wait to read your students’ words!
Poet Laureate of Mississippi
Where do you live? What details could you give a stranger to help them picture your town and understand what it’s like to live there? For this project, Mississippi students across the state will write “list poems” about their towns. A list poem is just what it sounds like—by listing
details about where you live, you’ll create a vivid picture of that place. Start off with the line “My town is” or “[Town name] is,” and go from
Here’s a short example:
My town is the traffic light at 3rd and Hogan Street
that takes forever to turn.
My town is the sound of cicadas and crickets on August nights.
It’s the fried catfish platter at Rosie’s,
pink skies at sunrise over the lake.
My town is smoky bonfires in October.
Some Poetry-Writing Tips:
Be specific! Specific details pull a reader in and make a poem come alive. For example: instead of tree, try magnolia or pine; instead of
street, try Hickory Drive or Industrial Park Road.
Use as many of the five senses (sight, sound, smell, taste, touch) as you can. This helps immerse a reader in whatever you’re describing. What buildings or animals do you see in your town? Do you smell the barbecue place down the street, or the farm across the way, or wet leaves in fall? What sounds do you hear in your town? What foods do you eat there? What does the weather feel like?
A poem is a chance to write from your own perspective, in your own voice. How do you experience your town?
Poems don’t have to rhyme! Feel free to use rhyme if you like, but free verse (unrhymed) poems “count” just as much as rhymed ones.