A National Treasure in Words Poetry Contest 2017

SOTB Web Hero Poster

A National Treasure in Words Poetry Contest, 2017

The winners are in for the Estuary Program’s annual poetry contest! Read the winning poems in our blog.

Please join us at the celebratory reading on Friday, May 19, at 7 p.m. at Coalesce Bookstore in Morro Bay.



Estuarine Seventeen: All entries must follow the haiku form: a three-line poem with a total of seventeen syllables, written with a 5/7/5 syllable count. Click here for more information on the haiku form. Poems must use the theme “Morro Bay estuary.” All poems entered must be written after April 29, 2016, and must be unpublished as of the date of entry.

State of the Bay: Entries in this category may be written in any form, and should contain no more than 45 lines, including any blank lines between stanzas. Poems must focus on a topic covered in the Morro Bay National Estuary Program’s 2017 State of the Bay report. All poems entered must be written after April 29, 2016, and must be unpublished as of the date of entry.

Read the official contest rules


Who can enter?

The contest is open to youth ages 12–17, and adults age 18 and up at the time of entry. One youth winner and one adult winner will be chosen from each category.

How to enter

  • Send up to three entries (three poems) by email to the Estuary Program with the subject line “2017 Poetry Contest.” Poems should be typed in an easy-to-read 12-point font. (Please, no cursive or other fancy fonts.)
  • All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. (PDT) on April 30, 2017.
  • Each entry must be attached to the email in Word format (.doc or .docx file type) or PDF format (.pdf file type). You may include all of your entries in one document.

In the body of your email, please include

  1. Author’s first and last name: The author’s full first and last name as it should appear in publication.
  2. Contact information: including email, phone number, and mailing address.
  3. Personal information: 
    • Youth entries should include the author’s age, grade level, current school, and the full name and contact information of the parent or guardian who is giving permission for the youth to enter the contest.
    • Adults should include the author’s city of residence.
  1. The category or categories the author is entering. Category choices:
    • Youth Estuarine Seventeen (ages 12 through 17)
    • Youth Estuary & State of the Bay (ages 12 through 17)
    • Adult Estuarine Seventeen (age 18 and up)
    • Adult Estuary & State of the Bay (age 18 and up)

Judging Panel

pose2 5-2-16

Glenna Luschei

Glenna Luschei has published the poetry magazines Café Solo, Solo and Solo Café for forty years. Luschei is the author of many chapbooks, special editions and trade books.  In 2016 she released Singing and Dying, published by Penciled In. Three of her artist books have received prizes from the Rounce & Coffin Best Western books from Occidental College. Recently, she was named a “Literary Treasure of the Mid-Coast” by the Ventura County Arts Council. She has received a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship and many individual California Arts Council grants. She will now be inducted to the Cal Tech Half-Century Club.

Patti Sullivan

Patti Sullivan, Guest Judge

Patti’s books are, For the Day,  Not Fade Away, and At The Booth Memorial Home for Unwed Mothers 1966. Other poems appear in Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace, Miramar, Solo Novo, Solo Press, Lummox, Hummingbird and Askew.
She was recently named an associate poetry editor with Evening Street Press, Sacramento.
She is also a visual artist with works in print in ArtLife, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and several book covers.
She assists in running the Annual San Luis Obispo Poetry Festival, Corners of the Mouth and Poetry at the Steynberg, all founded by Kevin Patrick Sullivan.



Photo by Joe Johnston\The Tribune

Jerry Douglas Smith, Guest Judge

A Salida, Colorado native, Jerry’s been a storyteller all his life. Living at 7000 feet in the heart of the Rockies, he acquired a natural education informed by rivers, raccoons, Native Americans, smart trout and wise old forests. A backpacker and fly-fisherman, he is a naturalist in the old sense–an insatiably curious student of human nature and the universe.

For 2013 and 2014 Jerry was Poet Laureate of San Luis Obispo. He’s a founding member of  24-year-old  Poets on the Edge critique group.

For 15 years, he has hosted Second Sunday at Seven, a monthly poetry reading at Coalesce Garden Chapel in Morro Bay.

Rachel Pass, Estuary Program Judge

Rachel is the Communications & Outreach Coordinator for the Morro Bay National Estuary Program. She works with community members, partners, and other stakeholders to raise awareness of the Estuary Program’s mission, and to encourage participation in restoration and preservation efforts. Rachel brings a background in writing, publishing, and teaching to her role. She loves to read and write poetry, and can often be found watching wildlife on the bay or hiking along the coast.


Winners will be announced on May 13, and will be invited to participate in a celebratory reading at Coalesce Bookstore on Friday, May 19 at 7 p.m. Guest judges will also read a selection of their poetry. Winners will receive a prize basket, and their work will be published in print and online.


Please make sure to read the official rules; they should answer many of your questions.