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Judges Agreement, Responsibilities and Criteria 

International Homeschooling Poetry Contest

Judge's Agreement

1) Confidentiality

To keep the judging environment confidential, we require that all judges commit to a confidentiality agreement. This pledge extends to all areas of the judging and awards process. This extends to communications including, but not limited to, email exchanges, phone calls, the contents of all discussions, and/or side conferences with the Awards board. 

Pledge of Confidentiality:

As an International Homeschool Poetry Contest (IHPC) judge, I agree to maintain complete confidentiality - as described above - before, during, and after the judging process. I will not ever discuss any aspect of my deliberations. I will not discuss any communications or deliberations I engaged in or mention them verbally, in print, or in any public online forum, ever. 

I further agree not to communicate with other judges during the judging process unless instructed to do so by the IHPC board.

2)  Conflict of Interest

Conflicts of interest potentially exist when a judge has personal or financial relationships with other persons or organizations or has author/editor/beta reader connections that could influence award-judging decisions.

The existence of such relationships may not necessarily represent a true conflict of interest and may not necessitate withdrawal from judging, but it is vital that they be disclosed to the Contest Board.

Personal Relationships: Poetry written by friends, immediate family, extended family and those you may be in a relationship with would be considered a conflict of interest and should be reported immediately to the Contest Board. If there is a potential of this happening please let us know ASAP so arrangements can be made to avoid your judging that specific age group. 

Financial Relationships: Poetry submitted by those related to those you have a financial connection too is a conflict of interest and must be reported immediately to the Contest Board.

Pledge of Notification of Conflict of Interest:

As a judge for the IHPC, I recognize that I may know some or all of the authors in the awards category I am judging. Nevertheless, I guarantee that all aspects of my judging will be fair and impartial.

I agree to disclose any potential conflict of interest as soon as it develops or as soon as I recognize it. If a conflict of interest emerges during the judging process, I agree to notify the Contest Board immediately. I am aware that such disclosure may result in my being reassigned by the Contest Board.

3)  Ownership of poetry received

As an International Homeschool Poetry Contest judge, you will be given digital copies of the submitted poems in your category. These poems have been given to you for the purpose of performing your duty as a judge.  You are understand that you will, under no circumstances, break publication rights by redistributing these poems. Once the contest has been announce, and you have received email notification of the announcement,  you are invited to share the results with your social media following. 

4)  Pledge of Understanding of my Responsibilities as a Judge

I certify that I have read in detail and fully understand and accept my role and responsibilities as a judge for the International Homeschool Poetry Contest, as well as all rules that apply to the judging process as spelled out in:

  • The 2019 Judging Process, Rules, and Regulations;

  • The 2019 Required Online Instructional Videos on Judging for the GCLS Literary Awards; and

  • This document (including all four sections of Confidentiality, Conflict of Interest, Ownership of Books and eBooks, and Understanding my Responsibilities as a Judge).

International Homeschooling Poetry Contest

Judges Responsibilities & Criteria


Judges Responsibilities

As a judge you are responsible for the following:

-Read the top 20 entries in your age category

-Using the judges criteria choose your top 6 poems. WHY 6? There are two reason.


  1. There will be a grand prize, 1st, 2nd, 3rd place winner picked from the #1 poem in each age category (#1 adult, #1 teen, #1 middle school, #1 elementary). Whichever group the Grand Prize winner is pulled from will have a space open for 1st. So, the number 2,3,4 places will be moved up to 1,2,3 within that age group.

  2. Contestants are allowed to enter a total of 3 poems but will be giving 13 different people  (plus 8 authors pics) the opportunity to be published. So, if you happen to pick 3 poems that all belong to one person, I want to make sure there are at least 3 different people to win in each category. To honor your selections, if you happen to select more than one poem from a single individual, I will honor it and that contestant will have both poems published. So, rather than that person winning both the 1st and 2nd place spot, they would win 1st (still have both poems published) and then the runners up would be 2nd and 3rd place.



Winner Selection

#1 poems in each age category will compete against each other for the cash prizes. They will be judged by the grand prize panel and will be titled:

Grand Prize, 1st, 2nd, 3rd. This will give every age group a chance to have a cash prize winner.


Poems to be published will be awarded to the top 3 poems (as described above, plus the 1 runner up in each age group, accept the group the grand prize winner is from which will have one additional poet to make the total 13 poets published. through judge selection.


Many people have entered this contest with the hope to be published and possibly win a cash prize. One thing I would like to stress is that no poetry should be prioritized purely on subject matter. For example, a religious themed poem should not be given priority over a dark and sinister themed poem purely because you prefer a religious theme. See judging criteria below.



Judging Steps

Use the following steps as you read and rate poem entries.

  1. Read through your poems for understanding and to become familiar with them.

  2. Then on your second read rate the poems on a scale of 1-10 in each of the following categories (See Below). The areas we are using are from the California Federation of Chaparral Poets (CFCP) contest model. After your second read you can eliminate the lowest scoring poems.

  3. Read through your top 6 poems one more time to finalize the order of 1st-6th. Pay attention to those that “move” you emotionally or intellectually in appreciation of the message.

Your top 6, listed in order of 1st to 6th, must be emailed to no later than Monday, the 26th of April. This will give time for the final judging of the Cash Prize winners by the appointed judges panel. The Grand Prize Judges Panel will then have 2 days to read over and put in their choices for Grand Prize.

Thank you again for the time and care you have given to this competition. I am sure every single person who has entered, trusts that this contest will be conducted in a professional manner. Every artist, whether with words, pencil or paint, want to believe that they are being fairly judged and that every entry is given the same time and care when being considered. The Judging Criteria Categories are below.

Judging Criteria Categories

Poems should be judged on the following criteria. The descriptions below are from the CFCP model.


Form/Style — the character of the poem, like Rhymed and Metered (RM) or Free Verse (FV). Each poem was looked at for what it was and not compared to others.

Rhyme/Rhythm — whether rhyme and/or rhythm were a characteristic of the poem, and if so, whether the rhymes were natural and sensible or artificial and forced, and whether the rhythm (which also applies to free verse) was consistent with the character of the poem.

Poetic Devices — the number and effectiveness of those poetic elements that raise poetry beyond prose — there are at least 15 of them, including rhyme, alliteration, personification, and so on. Without their use, the writing becomes prose.

Comprehension/Coherence — do the ideas presented hang together to create a whole? Is there “meaning” to the writing, and is that meaning realized?

Mood/Imagery — does the poem illustrate its message — can I feel the feelings and/or visualize the images presented? How significant are those images to the purpose of the poem?

Word Selection — has the writer chosen the words of the poem to enable the poem to reach its intent? Are there clichés or overused imagery (we know the sky is blue) to weaken the conveyance of meaning?

Scope/Significance — does the poem deal with the human experience, and if so, to what extent is the poem successful in adding to our understanding?

Line Endings/Line Breaks — are these visual aids used successfully to create emphasis and to carry the reader to the main significance of the writing? In free verse, are the line endings used to create emphasis, and are the line breaks used to create a longer pause that is significant?

Punctuation/Spelling/Grammar — does the poet respect our language conventions and provide punctuation to aid the reader in understanding of the poem? Do spelling errors interrupt the flow of the poem’s language? Are there distortions of word order that seem artificial and obscure meaning?

Content Realized — the poem had a purpose when it started out — did the poem realize its intentions? Does it lead naturally to its conclusion?

​Benefits and promotion

  • In 2020 our contest reached people in 40 countries and 125 poetry submissions. We plan on doubling that this year. 

  • As a judge you will be featured on the poetry page at  from April 2023 till March 2024 with a link that you will provide.   

  • You will be featured in an email sharing your most recent poetry, book, and/or promotion you would like to share. 

  • If you are a person with limited time the number of submissions can be reduced by the Contest Board to prescreening and reduce the number of poems to read. 

  • As a  judge, you are invited to submit a poem to be included in the book A Year of Poetry Tea Time: Winter. It will need to fit the theme and be child friendly. This can be a new poem or a poem you have already written accompanied with  the needed documentation to give permission for its inclusion in the publication if it has been published before.

  • You will be given the opportunity to do a live or recorded workshop  with the members of the A Year of Poetry Tea Time Group.  This will give the poetry contest submitters a chance to get to know you better and a chance to share, not only poetry, but more about you and your website.

  • You will share the contest details with your main following through social media and email list (a graphic to be provided by A Year of Poetry Tea Time) and let them know that you are going to be a judge.

  • If you choose, you can also donate a prize to be given to a poetry contest winner.


Of course, if something above does not work for you, I am open to discussing other options that may better benefit you.  So feel free to reach out to me via phone/text Christine Owens- 928-660-1261  email

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