Sonnet Contest

The 2020 Sonnet Contest is canceled.

A message from Teri Cross Davis, the Folger's Poetry Coordinator:
"Thank you to all who sent in sonnets. It is still a beautiful thing to write poetry, especially now."


Information About Past Contests

Students in grades 3 through 12 in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia are invited to submit original sonnets for the annual Shakespeare’s Birthday Sonnet Contest. Winners are invited to read their entries on the Folger stage during Shakespeare’s Birthday Open House.

Sonnets may be written on any subject and in any voice, but must follow Shakespearean sonnet form: 14 lines of iambic pentameter with an ABAB  CDCD  EFEF  GG rhyme scheme.

A judge from the Folger staff will select the top sonnet in each of three categories: grades 3-6, grades 7-9, and grades 10-12. The overall winner in each category will receive a full set of Folger editions of Shakespeare’s plays. Second place-winners in each of three age categories will receive a copy of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Read the winning sonnets from 2018.

Sonnet submissions must include name, age, school or home school, grade, and contact information and may be e-mailed to or sent to: Folger Shakespeare Library, Attn: Folger Poetry, 201 East Capitol Street, SE, Washington, DC 20003.

To see past winners, visit our Folgerpedia archive.


Frequently Asked Questions

Who can enter?
  • Students in grades 3-6, 7-9, 10-12, teachers, and entire classes.
What is the sonnet form?
  • We are looking for sonnets in the Shakespearean form of 14 lines of iambic pentameter with an ABAB  CDCD  EFEF  GG rhyme scheme. 
What can the sonnet be about?
  • Sonnets may be written on any subject and in any voice, but must follow the Shakespearean sonnet form as noted above.
How do I enter?
What’s a remixed sonnet?
  • A remixed sonnet follows the Shakespearean form above but is created from found or gathered text including Shakespearean text. 
What do I need on my submission?
  • Please include your name, age, grade, email address, school, school address, and title of your sonnet.