Art and Poetry Contest Intructions

Nature has been the greatest source of inspiration for artists and poets since humans began drawing on the walls of caves and singing sagas. 

Yet despite its importance, environmental and arts education is marginalized in the United States. This sorry scenario is increasingly true in other countries as well.

River of Words was founded to give new life to the teaching of art and poetry through watershed exploration. Our innovative Watershed Explorer Educator's Guide brings together sketching and botany, nature journaling and poetry writing. Students who participate are encouraged to submit their work to our free international art and poetry contest, held annually since 1995 in conjunction with the Center of the Book in the Library of Congress.


  • US entries must be postmarked by December 1, 2017.
  • International entries must be received by February 1, 2017

Entries will be judged in the following categories.

Category I -- K-Grade 2 (Primary)
Category II -- Grades 3-6 (Elementary)
Category III -- Grades 7-9 (Intermediary)
Category IV -- Grades 10-12 (Secondary) 

There is no charge to enter. You may enter on your own, or through your school, or youth organization. We accept poems in English, Spanish and American Sign Language (please submit on DVD.) Teachers/facilitators must complete a Facilitator Form along with the group entries, as well as a typed list of the names of all entrants in your class (Class List).

Submissions become property of River of Words. Through submission of poetry or artwork, contestants and their legal guardians grant nonexclusive reproduction and publication rights to the works submitted, which will not be returned.

Before submission, please make sure you have this year's form. These are updated every year. You will be able to download this year's contest forms below. 

To enter the River of Words International Art and Poetry Contest, read the contest rules carefully and complete the appropriate form.

Contest Rules and FormS in English

Reglas y formas del concurso en español

Mailing Address for All Submissions (all art submissions MUST be mailed)

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