How Do You Express Yourself?

Submit your original poem to the 25th annual Express Yourself! Youth Poetry Competition. Finalists will be recognized at a ceremony during National Poetry Month in April and have their poems published in an anthology.


  • 60 finalists will be invited to an awards ceremony on April 22, 2021 and have their work published by the Dallas Public Library in a bound anthology.
  • One finalist will be selected to receive the Joe M. and Doris Russell Dealey Fund Award of Achievement and one winner will be selected for each of the following grade categories: 2-5, 6-8, 9-12.
  • All qualified poems will be judged on originality and structure.
  • All qualified poems will be judged separately in the following grade categories: 2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, and 10-12.
  • All finalists will be notified by email by March 31, 2020.

RULES ........ Please read carefully.

  1. Poems must be the writer’s own work and may not be submitted without the poet’s knowledge and consent.
  2. All poets must be in grades 2-12 and live in the City of Dallas or attend a school within Dallas city limits.
  3. All entries must be received or postmarked (if mailed) by January 31, 2021. No entries will be returned.
  4. Entries must not exceed 20 lines.
  5. Only one entry per poet.
  6. Poems accepted in English and in Spanish.
  7. All entries become the property of The Friends of the Dallas Public Library & Dallas Public Library.
  8. For complete rules, visit

Poems may also be dropped off at any Dallas Public Library location. Attach the completed entry form found at


For more information, contact:

What Does it Mean to Express Yourself?

Paint, pencils, crayons and InDesign – use your favorite medium to design a book cover for the annual Express Yourself Youth Poetry Competition winners’ anthology.

Complete Rules for Entry

Artist Requirements: The Express Yourself Cover Art Contest is open to all artists in grade 2-12, who live in the City of Dallas or attend a school within Dallas city limits.

The Artwork Must Be Original: You must be the creator of the artwork that is submitted to the contest. Your art must be your own original concept and not a copy of anyone else's copyrighted material. If your image infringes upon another's copyright it will be disqualified.


Artist Requirements: 

  • Any drawing or painting medium, including: pencil, watercolors, crayons, and      acrylics can be used. Non-reflective sturdy paper such as watercolor paper or card stock is preferred. Artwork should be on vertical (portrait orientation). Maximum size 11in x17in
  • Any Graphic design software, including Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, or open source product, can be used. Your images are best represented at 1200px on the longest side and at a resolution of 72dpi. The acceptable file formats are: jpg or pdf.
  • Artwork must be the artists own work and may not be submitted without artist’s      consent.


Multiple Submissions: Only one submission per artist.

Submission Deadline: Submissions accepted starting September 21, 2020. Artwork must be received or postmarked by January 31, 2021.


Entry Process: 

Art may also be submitted in person at any Dallas Public Library Location.


Submit by mail to:

Express Yourself! 

J. Erik Jonsson Central Library, 

1515 Young St., Dallas, TX 75201-5499

Submit online at:


Judging Criteria:

  • Creativity
  • Originality
  • Quality
  • All qualified art will be judged separately in the in the following grade categories: 2-5, 6-8, 9-12.



  • All finalists will be notified by email by April 1, 2021.
  • One overall winner will be selected to have their artwork appear on the cover of the 25th edition of the Express Yourself! Finalists’ Anthology.
  • One winner per grade category will have their artwork appear on the back cover, for a total of three winners.
  • Two finalists per grade category will have their artwork appear in the anthology, for a total of six honorable mentions.
  • All finalists will be invited to an award ceremony on April 22, 2021.


All entries become the property of the Friends of Dallas Public Library and the Dallas Public Library. Dallas Public Library is granted permission to use the drawings at its discretion. For more information contact:

 DalLibZine is a local Dallas magazine for community, hope, and resilience. We publish visual art, poetry, prose, reviews, and essays in print, and audiovisual works online. Our goal is to create a forum for Dallas art-makers and artists. For past issues go to DalLibZine.


-Submissions are limited to one per person, per issue.

-Written and visual works will need to fit, legibly printed, within 5.5in x 8in.

-Audiovisual submissions should last no longer than 4 minutes.

-Submissions may include but are not limited to: visual art, pictures of physical art, essays, prose, poetry, comics, reviews, recipes, videos, and/or audio.

-Submissions should be in English or Spanish.

For tips on documenting art:


· In accordance with the Library’s Bill of Rights, the Dallas Public Library virtual exhibit space is available on an “equitable basis, regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting its use.”

· Submissions of a pornographic, polemic or discriminatory nature will be refused.

· Submissions may not support the election or defeat of a political candidate, be of a partisan nature, or promote a specific religion.

· All artwork must be original and not previously published

· Submissions do not automatically guarantee acceptance or publication

· Artists grant the library the right to use their images for the purpose of promoting exhibitions, promoting the artist and subsequent display on the library’s website and may also be placed on social networks.

· In the event of a complaint by community members, such complaint will be handled under the library complaint procedures.

· The Dallas Public Library shall in no way act as agent for the sale of items from submitted work.

· All work is subject to City and Library standards of conduct.

Questions? Email

Interested in having a free poetry workshop with your class? 

Due to ongoing public health concerns, all Express Yourself! Poetry Workshops will be virtual.

Express Yourself! Poetry Workshops are designed to help students understand poetry and write poems for submission to the Express Yourself! Youth Poetry Competition. For more information about the Competition, go to

To request a workshop, please fill out this form (items marked with a red asterisk * are required), then click "Submit" to submit your request to Dallas Public Library. 

A Dallas Public Library staff member will reach out to you via e-mail about your request. 

Please read the following for more information regarding poetry workshops:

  • Workshops are available for booking beginning September 21, 2020 - January 22, 2021. Workshops are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Workshops may be scheduled by any school, public or private, in the City of Dallas as well as by afterschool programs/organizations for students in grades 2 through 12.
  • Workshops may be during the school day or afterschool/weekends. All workshops will be virtual through Zoom or other teleconferencing platform. Multiple classes may be in the program depending on the capacity of the teleconferencing platform and performer preference.

For more information, call 214-670-7943 or email

Dallas Public Library