The Palatine Public Library District will sponsor its fourth annual poetry contest in April in honor of National Poetry Month.
Valid district cardholders of all ages are invited to channel their inner poet and submit their best original piece for a chance to win the Nancy J. Heggem Poetry Award.
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Winners will be announced at a special ceremony on Saturday, April 27. Merit-based cash prizes will be awarded in three categories: youth, teen, and adult. The cash prizes are donated by library board member, local poet, and contest judge Nancy Heggem.
Poets of all ages will be invited to share their work during an open mic reading following the ceremony, and all who attend will be eligible to win door prizes, including Barnes and Noble gift cards.
Submissions will be accepted from Friday, March 15, through Monday, April 15. Poets may enter electronically via the Palatine Library website, or by delivering their work to the Reader Assistance Desk or any branch location. Entries will be displayed in the main library.
Contest guidelines are available online at www.palatinelibrary.org.
National Poetry Month was first established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets. It has grown into a nationwide movement uniting schools, booksellers, publishers, and literary organizations in a campaign to increase the visibility of poetry in popular culture.
Librarian and poet Tracie Padal has helped plan and coordinate Poetry Month activities at the Palatine Library for the last four years.
"Poetry is word-music," she said. "It stirs the ear and the heart, and challenges the writer to distill emotion and experience into concise syllables and imagery."
In 2012, the library expanded its Poetry Month activities to include an award ceremony and open mic reading. Over 70 people attended the event.
"The turnout was truly phenomenal," Padal said. "We added this component because hearing a poem out loud gives it new life, and we wanted to honor all the effort that goes into creating poetry, as well as all the people -- the parents, the teachers, the spouses -- whose support makes it possible for poets to do their work."
Heggem's personal experiences with writing inspired her to become involved in the project.
"The reading, writing, and performance of poetry have added so much to my life," Heggem said. "I wanted to share my enthusiasm by underwriting three monetary prizes."