The Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks is sponsoring a poetry contest in 2012 that is inspired by the Baltimore’s Best Senior Citizens Poetry Contest of the 1980s.

The original contest, which began in 1981, encouraged Baltimore City’s senior residents to compose and enter poems on the theme, “Baltimore is best because…” Among those invited to be guest judges were Lucille Clifton, former Poet Laureate of Maryland, and James Michener, author of The Watermen.

The judges of this year’s revival are yet to be announced, but the theme for entries is, “Baltimore — My City — My Home.” The 2012 contest is also being held in memory of Ruth Rochkind Garbis, who was presented with a first place award in 1985 by then-Mayor William Donald Schaefer for her poem, “I Love Baltimore.” To read Mrs. Garbis’ winning poem click this link and scroll down to the comment posted by her daughter.

To be eligible, writers must be at least 60 years of age and City residents. Writers may only submit one previously unpublished poem that does not exceed more than one typed or written page. The deadline is June 1, 2012. There is no entry fee.

All forms of poetry are welcome as long as they are original works. Entries must include a separate page that contains the writer’s name, age, mailing address (and email address if available), and phone number. No biographical information should appear on the poem to maintain objectivity in the judging process.

Writers may email their entry to Cathy Casale ( or mail to:
Baltimore City Senior Citizens Poetry Contest
Baltimore City Department of Recreation and Parks
Senior Citizens Division
229 1/2 Eaton Street
Baltimore, MD 21224

Love to write but not sure you’re a poet? Plans for poetry workshops for seniors are in the works. Or why not sign up for one of the writing workshops offered around the city — to inspire classmates (and show off a little!) with the ways your life experiences enrich your creative writing?

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