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OUS announces 2021 MLK writing contest

The Ohio University Southern Council on Diversity and Inclusion has announced the prompt for the 2021 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Writing Contest.

In his speeches and essays, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. employs a variety of creative writing techniques to add imagery to his writings, to enhance his themes and the inspirational tone of his work, and, most importantly, to reach a broad audience for his ideas.

In his “I Have a Dream” speech, for example, Dr. King makes use of banking metaphors and images of the seasons. Readers from all walks of life — from the impoverished man on the street, to the Harvard graduate — can connect to these everyday images, making King’s deep ideas about equality and freedom relatable to all. King likewise draws readers into his speech through his impassioned use of repetition. As his use of repetition gains momentum, readers and listeners become motivated and empowered by his words.

For the 2021 challenge, open to all Tri-State students in grades 6-12, students are asked to write a poem on a contemporary social topic involving peace or protest that they feel would have gotten King’s attention were he still alive today. Like King, students must use a variety of creative techniques to help broaden their audience, capture their readers’ attention and inspire their readers to make a difference.

“Each year it is my honor to help coordinate this writing contest,” said Dr. Hayley Haugen,

Professor of English at Ohio University Southern and one of the contest judges. “The contest provides a wonderful opportunity to encourage young writers to reflect on the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and to share their impressive writing with our community. The judges and I always enjoy reading the submissions and look forward to the poetry the students will generate from this year’s prompt.”

Prizes will be awarded in two categories; grades 6-8 and 9-12.

Grades 6-8: First Place – $100; Second Place – $50; Third Place – $25.

Grades 9-12: First Place – $100; Second Place – $50; Third Place – $25.

“Ohio University Southern has offered this contest for many years now, and while the cash incentive is great, we hope each student who participates will learn about the legacy of

Dr. King and, in turn, learn how they can affect change in their own communities,” said Robert Pleasant, Southern’s Associate Director of Student Resource Commons.

All entries must be received online by 5 p.m. on Jan. 1, 2021. Poems should be sent to Dr. Hayley Haugen at haugen@ohio.edu and Robert Pleasant at pleasanr@ohio.edu. Entries will only be accepted via email.

The subject line of the email should be the title of the poem. Attach the poem as a .doc, .docx or .pdf file. Do not paste the poem in the body of the email. Do not include your name or any of the above information (except title) on your poem.

For a full list of contest rules and guidelines, visit www.ohio.edu/southern/events-southern/mlk.