Sustainability Poetry Contest

2020 Theme: International Year of Plant Health

submission deadline: march 1, 2020 (5 p.m.)

“Healthy plants constitute the foundation for all life on Earth, as well as ecosystem functions and food security, and are key to sustaining life on Earth”
– UNESCO, April 2018.

Attend the World Poetry Day Celebration

UNESCO has been celebrating World Poetry Day annually since 1999. The goal is to use poetry as a social tool to bring awareness to social issues, give a voice to the community, promote linguistic diversity and change the way people view their place in the world.

Brock’s UNESCO Chair hosts a Poetry Day Celebration in St. Catharines every year to celebrate the day and honour the winners of the annual poetry contest.

WHEN: March 23, 2020

WHERE: Niagara Artists Centre
354 Saint Paul Street
St. Catharines, ON L2R 3N2

RSVP: Eventbrite

TIME: 7:00 p.m.

Submission Form/ formulaire de soumission

Submissions are accepted in both English and French. Please click the applicable link below to enter up to two (2) poems in your preferred language. 

Contest Rules

Submission Deadline: March 1, 2020 (5 p.m.)

Submission Categories: Elementary Student, High School Student, College/University Student, and General Public

Who can submit a poem? All residents of the Niagara Region and First Nations/Six Nations/Metis/Inuit in the region, Ontario, Canada, are eligible to enter.

Prizes: One prize will be awarded for each of the four categories. Prizes will include books, gift cards, and other gifts valuing over $50 per category. Poems are also published in an online e-book.

Winners will be announced at the UNESCO World Poetry Day Celebration on March 23,2020.

Date limite de soumission: March 1, 2020 (5 p.m.)

Les catégories de poèmes sont: étudiant(e)s du primaire, étudiant(e)s du secondaire, étudiant(e)s collégiaux ou  universitaires et toutes et tous les autres résident(e)s de la Niagara

Qui peut participer? Tous et toutes les résidents et First Nations/Six Nations/Metis/Inuit de la région de la Niagara, Ontario, Canada, sont invités à participer.

Prix: Un prix sera décerné pour chacune des quatre catégories. Les prix incluront des livres, certificats cadeaux et autres prix pour une valeur de plus de $50 par catégorie.

Les gagnant(e)s seront annoncés à la Journée mondiale de la Poésie de l’UNESCO, le 23 mars 2020.


UNESCO declared March 21 as World Poetry Day during UNESCO’s 30th session held in Paris in 1999, to recognize the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind. It supports linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.

In 2015, the UNESCO Chair in Community Sustainability: from local to global, with the help of the Brock University Environmental Sustainability Research Centre, initiated a contest designed to celebrate Niagara’s creative minds region and enhance their role in community sustainability.

Every year, writers from the local community are encourage to submit unpublished poems on themes related to sustainability.

From the UNESCO Poetry Day Website:

“Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings.

Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.
In celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21, UNESCO recognizes the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.


Thank you to all of the participants in our 2019 poetry contest!
Click the link below to read all of the submissions from the contest.

Thank you to all of the participants in our 2018 poetry contest!
Click the link below to read all of the submissions from the contest.

Thank you to all of the participants in our first three poetry contests!
Click the link below to read all submissions from 2015 – 2017

Previous Winners


View Presentation

Theme: ‘Year of Indigenous Voices’

“Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures. To encourage a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, to promote the teaching of poetry, to restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts.” – UNESCO

“Indigenous languages are essential to sustainable development; they constitute the vast majority of the world’s linguistic diversity, and are an expression of cultural identity, diversity and a unique understanding of the world. The disappearance of indigenous languages has a negative impact on areas directly affecting lives of indigenous peoples such as, politics, health, justice, education and access to ICTs among other things.” – UNESCO, April 2018


“The Language Poem” by: Ambar K Foster
Category: Elementary Student (English)

“The Voyageur” by: Jake Ontario Vandenbosch
Category: College/University Student (English)

“Le pardon” by: Fatima Mojahid
Category: College/University Student (French)

“Well Educated Guesses” by: Janet M Rogers
Category: General Public (English)

Special Mention:

“The bridge” by: Cristina Soto
Category: General Public (English)


View Presentation

Theme: ‘The Future We Want’

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly in its Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 27 July 2012 during the Rio +20 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, adopted the outcome document entitled “The future we want” as a vision for what has become in 2015 the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

As mentioned: Poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today and an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. In this regard, we are committed to freeing humanity from poverty and hunger as a matter of urgency… We therefore acknowledge the need to further mainstream sustainable development at all levels, integrating economic, social and environmental aspects and recognizing their interlinkages, so as to achieve sustainable development in all its dimensions.”


“Now” by: Hannah Johnston
Category: Elementary Student (English)

“Do we have to die before dessert” by: Emily Lizbet Fulton
Category: High School Student (English)

“My feet are damp” by: Danielle Izzard
Category: College/University Student (English)

“Two worlds” by: Liz Bonisteel
Category: General Public (English)

“Les cris d’univers” by: Victoria Vieira
Category: College/University Student (French)


View Presentation


“Pensez avant de voyager” by: Natalie Leblanc
Category: College/University Student (French)

“Take a deep breath” by: Kostyn Vaughan Petrunick
Category: College/University Student (English)

*Honourable mentions:

“Touriste” by: Stacey Lynn Duncan
Category: College/University Student (French)

“Tourisme durable pour le développement” by: Wilfrid Junior Desrosiers
Category: College/University Student (French)


View Presentation


“La Ville-Jardin, faillite alimentaire” by Casey Maria Lawrence
Cateogory: College/University student (French)

“Gertrude Stein on Sustainability” by Jonathan Karl Lepp
Category: General public (English)

“Exported Goods” by Jamie Eri Lupia
Category: College/University student (English)

Contest Details

View Presentation


“Birds of the World” by: Cole David Michael Campbell
Category: Elementary school student

“The old man…” by Rebekah  Cho
Category: High school student

“The Malleable Genealogy of Oranges” by Ryan Ralph Racine
Category: College/ University student

“Ode to the Dandelion” by Shelley Anne Locke
Category: General public