Click here to see the 2021 contest winners!

For its second annual writing contest, The Historic New Orleans Collection asks students in grades 6 through college to create an original piece of writing that responds to one of the prompts below from Afro-Creole Poetry in French from Louisiana's Radical Civil War-Era Newspapers

The following prompts are taken from poems published in two 19th-century Afro-Creole newspapers. The poems in the newspapers were written as messages and conversations performed for a public audience, and the authors often wrote their poems in direct response to each other. They’re examples of dialogue in print, published by people of color, reflecting the issues and events in Civil War-era New Orleans. You can click here to see three examples of poems in dialogue. Just as these poems were written as dialogue, we would like contest entries to act as responses to any of the prompts below. Your entry can be written as a poem, prose, creative essay, or any other type of writing. 

Click here to see the contest prompts—please choose one to which your original writing will respond. 


Contest Guidelines

  • The contest is open to students in grades 6–12, plus currently enrolled college students, in the United States and US territories. 
  • Each student may submit only one entry.
  • Each entry should be submitted as a Microsoft Word document or PDF.
  • Each entry must be a wholly original work composed by the submitter. Any entry that is found to be plagiarized in whole or in part will be immediately disqualified.
  • The contest will open on January 19, 2021, and close on March 1, 2021. Essays must be submitted by midnight on Monday, March 1, 2021.


Contest Awards 

A judging panel, including THNOC staff, local poets, and Afro-Creole Poetry editor and translator Clint Bruce, will select winning entries from each of three categories: middle school (grades 6–8), high school (grades 9–12), and college. Winners will receive a monetary prize and copies of THNOC-published books Afro-Creole Poetry in French from Louisiana’s Radical Civil WarEra Newspapers, Monumental: Oscar Dunn and His Radical Fight in Reconstruction Louisiana, and Economy Hall: The Hidden History of a Free Black Brotherhood; and their entries will be published on THNOC's website. The winning writers will receive $250 for first place, $150 for second place, and $75 for third place.