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“Tell Me a Story” High School Contest


Welcome to the high school contest—an invitation to be discovered and published alongside the world’s great writers!

For those interested in participating in the 2021–2022 Seventh Annual “Tell Me a Story” Contest, we’ve got big plans in store! Be sure to subscribe to Narrative to keep up to date with all the exciting writers we publish, along with program logistics and contest details!

We are so excited to announce that the Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown will guest judge this year. We’ll be announcing this year’s prompt at start of the contest on January 3, 2022 and invite high school students grades 9-12 in the U.S. and abroad to submit their writing. The submission deadline is February 4, 2022 at 5p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

For now, let’s recap: for our Sixth Annual “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest in the 2020–2021 season, we invited all high school students to write a poem using the prompt escape. And what amazing escapes we discovered!
Contributing students in this year’s Narrative contest covered the globe: indeed, we received submissions from nineteen countries, including South Africa, India, China, Serbia, Poland, Taiwan. Within the United States, we heard from young poets in 39 states and 174 cities—an amazing outpouring of poetry. In all, last year our Narrative in the Schools program reached more than 100,000 students and teachers in schools worldwide.

Narrative editors, including poetry editor Michael Wiegers, New York Times–bestselling author and Narrative cofounder/editor Carol Edgarian, and special guest judge, Salvadoran poet and Narrative Prize winner Javier Zamora, selected the first-, second-, and third-place winners, as well as seven finalists.


In the spring, writers of the winning entries worked closely with Zamora, fine-tuning their poems and engaging in all aspects of a professional publishing process. Then the “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest winners and finalists were announced with fanfare and were awarded with cash prizes, totaling $1,150, and with publication in Narrative. Hear from the winning poets and guest judge Zamora directly as they reflect on what the contest meant to them here.


Our Seventh Annual “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest will follow a similar structure, with a new prompt announced at start of the contest on January 3. Submissions are free, with our submission deadline on February 4. We are thrilled that the Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown will guest judge and mentor the winning entries.

Be sure to subscribe to Narrative to receive such updates straight to your in-box.


Winning pieces in the Narrative “Tell Me a Story” High School Contest:


The Sixth Annual High School Contest: Escape

The Fifth Annual High School Contest: The Choice

The Fourth Annual High School Contest: The Mistake

The Third Annual High School Contest: When Everything Changed

The Second Annual High School Contest: Dear America

The First Annual High School Contest: Where I’m Going


Are you a student or teacher looking for other resources? Check out our curated reading lists and video tutorials about the craft of writing, featuring bestselling author and Narrative cofounder/editor Carol Edgarian.




Additional Information:


Welcome | For Teachers | For Students
“Tell Me a Story” High School Contest | Video Tutorials with Carol Edgarian
Recommended Reading | Explore by Theme