The Arnold Adoff Poetry Awards & Call for Nominations

With great pleasure, in partnership with and sponsorship by Arnold Adoff, the Board of the Virginia Hamilton Conference on Multicultural Literature for Youth seeks nominations for the Arnold Adoff Poetry Awards.

The Arnold Adoff Poetry Awards seek to recognize excellence in multicultural poetry for youth, for readers at the primary level, middle level, and teens. The Awards also hope to inspire a poet early in his or her career with the “New Voices” award. The purpose of the awards is to highlight the power of poetry, to encourage publishers to publish works of poetry from a variety of perspectives — inclusive literature —  to commend poets for various student populations, and to encourage the reading of poetry.

Thus, four awards will be announced yearly at the Virginia Hamilton Conference, beginning with the conference in April of 2016. Each award winner will receive a check for $500 and an award, affectionately named the “Rudini” in honor of Rudine Sims Bishop, dear friend to both Virginia Hamilton and Arnold Adoff and eminent supporter of multicultural literature.

Call for Nominations

We are now requesting nominations for these awards. Eligible books support multicultural themes and issues in literature for children and young adults. These entries must be originally published in the U.S. within the last two years preceding the award year. For example, for the awards to be given in April of 2017, books published in 2015 or 2016 are eligible. In ensuing years, previous winning book titles will not be eligible for nomination. Books must first be published in print form. A book from a series that has previously won the award will not be eligible for nomination.

Publishers, poets, librarians, teachers, and Virginia Hamilton Board members may nominate books for the awards, stating clearly which category the book of poetry fits best: Early Readers (Preschool through third grade); Middle Readers (Grades 4 through 8), Teen (Grades 9 through 12), and New Voices (a poet who has published at most twice before the current submission).

Winning books will be chosen by the Arnold Adoff Poetry Award Council, which will be composed of five members: Arnold Adoff, one of the co-directors of the conference, and three members of the Virginia Hamilton Board. The Council will choose, for each category, one book that is an excellent contemporary text which celebrates multicultural themes and issues through poetry and was written by a current author; illustrated books of deceased poets are not eligible for the award. Novels in verse, memoir in verse, collections of original poetry, and edited collections are all acceptable formats for the Arnold Adoff Poetry Awards.

Publishers are asked to contribute six (6) copies of any nominated book: one each for each Council member to review and one for the Arnold Adoff Poetry Award Archives, which will be maintained by the School of Library and Information Science at Kent State University. Nominations for which multiple copies of the book are not provided will not be considered for the award.

Yearly awards will be determined in early February and winners will be announced at the annual Virginia Hamilton Conference at Kent State University. Publishers will be encouraged to assist winning poets with expenses to travel to the conference; if funds are available, the Virginia Hamilton Conference may be able to assist with travel expenses including mileage or airfare and accommodations, but conference funds are typically limited. The Conference can provide complimentary conference registration for each award winner. If an award winner cannot attend the annual conference, his or her check and award will be mailed.

To submit a nomination(s), please complete the accompanying form and include it with the six copies of the book. To be considered for the inaugural poetry awards in April of 2017, books must be postmarked by December 1, 2016. Please remember that books published in both 2015 and 2016 are eligible for this award in 2017. Books with a 2016 copyright will remain eligible for the poetry awards in 2017. The book submission date will remain December 1 each subsequent year. 

Please send six copies of each book and completed nomination form to:

  • Kent State University School of Library and Information Science
  • Attn. Michelle Baldini
  • 1125 Risman Drive, 314 University Library
  • PO Box 5190
  • Kent, Ohio 44242-0001

Your submission(s) will be acknowledged through email.

If you should have any questions about the award, please contact Council Award Chair, Dr. Alexa L. Sandmann, at 330-672-2580 or