The Renee Duke Youth Award Poetry Contest is sponsored by Poets for Human Rights and Artists in Action International.

This year’s youth poetry contest is dedicated to Renee Duke (1927-2011) mother, artist, poet, mentor and life counselor who inspired thousands of people across all walks of life.
Entries are being accepted by email until November 30, 2011


Anyone aged 17 or younger may submit up to five poems.

Poem(s) must relate to one or more of the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. To view public service announcements for each of the articles, visit

Poems must be in the body of email, or as PDF attachments. Email to [email protected]. Note in the subject line “Youth Award.”

Poems should be no more than one page long. Do not use colors or graphics.

Previously published poems and simultaneous submissions are accepted.

Include the following information:

Poem Title
Statement that the poem is your original composition.
Statement that you give permission to publish (with rights reverting back to the poet)

First prize is $50. Winner will be awarded a certificate and poem will be published at the Poets for Human Rights web site.

Honorable Mentions may be awarded at the discretion of the judge. HM’s will receive a certificate of award.

Winner and Honorable Mentions will be announced on December 10, 2011, the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For questions contact Stazja McFadyen at
<stazja(at)> (replace (at) with @ in sending email)

3 Responses to “Renee Duke Youth Poetry Contest”

  1. Jenna Blinn

    My name is Jenna Blinn and I am a high school senior from Connecticut. I love writing and have always enjoyed it. It’s very therapeutic and has been a huge help in my life. No matter what happens in my life I still hope to be able to continue writing.

  2. Stazja McFadyen

    Announcing the winner of the 2015 Renee Duke Youth Award Poetry Contest – Joyce Hida
    Congratulations to Joyce Hida, age 16, a junior at Rockville High School in Vernon, Connecticut. Her poem Article 14: Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution has been chosen for the 2015 Renee Duke Youth Award.
    She is a member of drama club, Model United Nations, an avid participant in the Associated Press photo class and is currently helping plan Junior Prom. Joyce is interested in studying international law in college.
    Presented herewith the 2015 Renee Duke Youth Award winning poem:
    Article 14:
    Right to Asylum in other Countries from Persecution

    Denim clings to her ankles.
    Shackled in dried blood.
    She builds fires
    In telephone wires.
    Whispers hope to him
    at midnight,
    Begs for mercy at dawn.

    Sewing silver
    Into seams
    Like a living leather wallet.
    She counts hours
    On cracked fingertips.
    Carving tallies onto concrete.
    Presses her palms together and prays
    That tomorrow
    She will numb to the sensation of
    teeth biting gravel.
    And metal barrel biting throat.

    Dusk burns the heels of her feet,
    Her lungs yearn to stop inhaling poison
    air of locked prison.
    Body twisted toward salvation,
    Heart rampant and furious.

    Sinking her fingers into soil
    named Alien,
    named Foreign,
    Past the Purgatorial line
    that bordered Heaven and Hell.
    She smiles
    With the faces she left behind:

    Breathing Lonely Air,
    Free Air;
    Truly shipwrecked in paradise.

    © Joyce Hida


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