Poetry Pentathlon 2023

What is a Poetry Pentathlon?

A poetry pentathlon is a poetry competition with five events. In each event, contestants are asked to write a different style of poem. Four of the poems must be submitted beforehand while the last event is a spontaneous prompt given at the live show. The winner will earn bragging rights and a cash prize.

What are the 5 Events?

Classic Poem - Limerick

The first event in the poetry pentathlon is the limerick. A limerick is a short, silly, rhythmic poem. To learn more about what a limerick is and how to write one, visit https://www.masterclass.com/articles/how-to-write-a-limerick 

For the classic poem challenge, we ask that you submit 1 original limerick that you would be willing to read aloud.

Response Poem - Photo

The second event in the poetry pentathlon is a response poem. For the response poem challenge, we ask that you write a poem in any style you choose while keeping the attached picture in mind. The  poem should be no longer than 2 minutes when read aloud.

Found Poem - Book Spines

The third event in the poetry pentathlon is a visual poem composed from the spines of books. To create this poem, stack books in a tower with the spines facing forward so that the titles of the books make a poem when read top to bottom. If you need more of a selection of books to use in your poem, we suggest supporting your local library and giving them a visit. To submit your book spine poem you will need to take a picture of the completed book stack and provide a written version of the poem with all the book titles and authors as shown in the submission example. The picture should be the best quality possible since we will be displaying the pictures at the time of reading on a large projector. If it is blurry on your screen, it will definitely be blurry on ours. Your poem needs to fit in one standard picture. No panoramic or 360° pictures please.

Rant Poem - Useless Object

The fourth event in the poetry pentathlon is a rant poem. Simply put, a rant poem is a poem about something you dislike or, more often than not, hate. Rant poems are a great place to channel your anger and we are asking that you channel that anger into your disdain for an inanimate object of some kind. Please keep your poem no longer than 2 minutes when read aloud.

Spontaneous Poem - On The Spot Prompt

The fifth and final event in the poetry pentathlon will be an on the spot prompt given at the live show. Nothing needs to be submitted beforehand for this event. Contestants will be expected to bring their writing medium of choice so they can work on the piece when not actively performing. After the first four events have been concluded, Contestants will perform the poem inspired by the spontaneous prompt. Any style is acceptable. Please keep your poem no longer than 3 minutes when read aloud.

How do I Enter the Contest?

To enter the competition and have a chance at performing at the live show in November, contestants will need to submit their poems for the first four events before Sunday, October 1st, 2023 at 12:00 pm Central Time. Please note that the deadline has been extended.

Submission Guidelines

  • Standard BONK! content rules apply. (No hate speech, anything else goes. Content/trigger warnings encouraged but not required)
  • File formats accepted include .docx, pdf, and google doc.
  • Submission documents must include a cover page with the contestant’s name, BONK! Poetry Pentathlon 2023, their email address, their phone number, and the date.
  • Submission documents must contain headers including the contestant’s name and page number.
  • Submissions must be in Arial 12pt, double spaced. Event titles should be in bold; poem titles should be underlined.
  • The photo for the book spine poem must be attached separately. (Do not embed it into the submission document.)
  • File names for both the submission and the book spine poem image must include the contestant’s last name and “Pentathlon 2023”.
  • Please refer to the submission example to see how to format your submission. You can find the submission example here.
  • If you have any questions or need assistance correctly formatting your document, feel free to contact us via email at contact@bonkseries.org
How do I Win?

After the submission deadline, the top 10 submissions will be decided by the BONK! team. These 10 contestants will then perform the poems they submitted as well as their poem for the fifth event for a live audience and panel of judges at the live show in November. The judges will tally the scores from all 5 events and the poet with the highest score wins. To win the bragging rights and cash prize, the contestant must be present at the live performance during the awards.

Where and When is the Live Show?

The live show will take place at the Racine Public Library in Racine, WI on Saturday, November 11th, 2023 at 5 pm to 8pm. The building is wheelchair accessible and the usage of masks is highly encouraged. If you have additional questions about accessibility, contact the Racine Public Library at (262) 636-9217 or email BONK! at contact@bonkseries.org.

What if I Have More Questions?

We would love to hear from you! Please email us at contact@bonkseries.org or call us at (262) 989-2930.

Good Luck! We Hope to Hear From You Soon!