NECC sponsors poetry contest

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Nine years ago, when Northern Essex Community College English Professor Dr. Paul Saint-Amand introduced the Peace Poetry Contest, he hoped for a “good response.”

Since then, the annual contest has collectively drawn more than 10,000 poems and nearly 1,000 pieces of art, written and drawn by kindergarteners to octogenarians from as far away as Pakistan and Nigeria.

“I had hoped the response would be good, but never thought so many students, teachers, and community members would so generously embrace this social justice activity over the years,” says the Vietnam era veteran and Gloucester resident. “Each year, I am pleasantly surprised by the volume of submissions, but, more important, I am overwhelmed by the care and level of poetic expression found in the entries. The reading event just keeps getting better, filling our tech center to capacity each spring.”

Saint-Amand, who is founder and project director of the National Peace Poetry Project and the director of the Vietnam Veterans Chapbook Project, hopes to keep the peace them moving again this year and is currently accepting original poems and artwork for the “Ninth Annual Peace Poetry Contest & Reading”. The contest deadline is Wednesday, March 15, 2017. The reading event for the winning submissions is Friday, May 5, 2017.

Children and adults from NECC area K-12 classrooms (both public and private) and those adults affiliated with these schools are invited to create and submit original poems on the subject of peace.

“We believe that children cannot learn to speak the language of possibility, or envision a culture of peace, if they do not have the opportunity to identify such moments and values within themselves and their relationships,” says Saint-Amand. “It is our responsibility, as educators, to offer students a way to fuel their imaginations and embrace the concept of peace.

For additional information, contact Saint-Amand, at (978) 556-3307 or

The Peace Poetry Contest & Reading is a program offered under the Service Learning umbrella at NECC. Its goal is to honor the ideal of peace through the creation and submission of works on the topic.

This contest is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Student and Academic Affairs, Division of Foundational Studies and Liberal Arts and Sciences, the English Department and Service Learning Committee. This contest is not affiliated with a political organization and holds no formal position on the current state of world affairs.