FAO in North America

2020 World Food Day Poetry Competition

Aaron R. of Arlington, Virginia, winner of the 2018 World Food Day Poetry Contest.

Calling all Poets living in Washington, DC, and surrounding Maryland and Virginia counties!

2 July 2020, Washington, DC - In recognition of the power of poetry to move hearts and minds, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Liaison Office for North America, in partnership with the Capital Area Food Bank, announces the third annual 2020 World Food Day Poetry Competition. The competition will be managed by the Poetry X Hunger initiative. Split This Rock is also providing helpful assistance.

Held every year on 16 October, this year’s World Food Day will mark FAO’s 75th anniversary and will focus on the theme: “Our actions are our future. Grow. Nourish. Sustain. Together.” 

As countries around the world suffer the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, World Food Day calls for global solidarity to help the most vulnerable people recover and make food systems more sustainable and resilient to shocks.

In a moment like this, it is more important than ever to call attention to the importance of food and celebrate food heroes like farmers and workers along the food chain, who along with health workers worldwide are standing in the front line, making sure that nutritious food continues to make its way from farm to fork. 

If we join forces across nations, continents, sectors, and professions, and act on evidence with compassion, we can bring the number of people who suffer from hunger and malnutrition to ZERO. Poetry can be an important tool to help mobilize the solutions and call-to-actions that we need to end hunger and promote healthy and sustainable diets.  

Eligibility: Poets ages 18 and older who currently live in the Washington, DC, and in the nearby counties of Prince George’s, Montgomery, Anne Arundel, Charles, Howard, Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, and Loudon are invited to submit 1-2 published or unpublished poems that focus on this year’s theme:  Our Actions Are Our Future: Grow. Nourish. Sustain. Together.  Employees of FAO, Capital Area Food Bank, and/or family members, as well as winners from the 2018 and 2019 competitions, are ineligible to enter this year’s competition.

Awards: First Prize for a single, winning poem is $500. In addition, the winner will be invited to read her/his poem at the World Food Day Celebration on or around October 16, 2020. The winning poem will also be published in/on the FAO Liaison Offices for North America’ Newsletter and Website, on the Capital Area Food Bank website and, on Poetry X Hunger’s website. Second Prize ($250) and Third Prize ($150) will also be published/posted as mentioned for the First Prize.  Honorable Mention awards may also be made.

Submission Guidance: There is no entry fee. Poems in any form and tradition, with any or no geographic focus, should be submitted as an attached Word file via email to [email protected] by the firm deadline of midnight on Saturday, August 15, 2020.

Submitted poems should be original, in English (no translations) and be family-friendly, 35 lines or less in length, single-spaced and in Times New Roman 12-point font. Please include name, address with county-of-residence noted, phone number, and email address in the body of the submission email. Poems will be judged anonymously; names or other identifiers should not appear on the poem. Poets are encouraged to avoid criticizing political leaders and countries, and rather convey an inspiring and forward-looking message about joint action for a well-nourished and sustainable planet.

Note that by submitting to the competition, poets acknowledge that they are the sole author of the poem(s) and agree to provide FAO, the Capital Area Food Bank and Poetry X Hunger the right to publish the poem(s) in print and/or electronic formats. If previously published work is submitted, the submitting poet must hold rights to the work and should indicate in the cover note where the poem first appeared.

Judging: Two preliminary judges and two final judges will select the winning entries. Decisions of the judges will be final and announced in the lead up to World Food Day on October 16.  Key judging criteria will be 1) reflection on or amplification of this year’s World Food Day theme and, 2) overall quality.  

Impact: By bringing poetry more fully to bear on urgent food insecurity and malnutrition issues, the Competition’s intent is to provide public stakeholders and decision-makers with powerful, moving poetry that can be used in meetings and appeals, on websites and in other relevant ways to inspire action for Zero Hunger.  

Questions: Send an email to [email protected]

Relevant Websites:

FAO's World Food Day site – http://www.fao.org/world-food-day

FAO’s North America Liaison Office - http://www.fao.org/north-america/en/

Capital Area Food Bank - https://www.capitalareafoodbank.org/

Poetry X Hunger website – https://www.poetryxhunger.com

Split the Rock - https://www.splitthisrock.org/