Original poetry, promoting an understanding of peace, is being sought for Northern Essex Community College’s 12th annual Peace Poetry Contest and Reading.

Students from kindergarten through 12th grade classrooms, both public and private, and those adults affiliated with these schools are invited to create and submit original poems on the subject of peace.

Twelve years ago, when, now retired NECC English Professor Paul Saint-Amand introduced the contest to the community, he had hopes of a “good response.” Since then, more than 10,000 poems and nearly 1,000 works of art, focusing on peace, have been submitted. Since his retirement, the contest is now coordinated by NECC English Professor Elle Yarborough.

This year’s contest deadline is 5 p.m. March 13. The reading event for winning submissions will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. May 1 in the Hartleb Technology Center on the Haverhill Campus, 100 Elliott St. First place winners in each age division will be invited to read their poems. All submissions will be published in a poetry chapbook.

“Taking over as coordinator for the Peace Poetry Contest has been an incredible honor,” said Yarborough. “Last year was my first year in this role and it was the first time that I read all of the poems submitted — almost 1,000 of them last year and I read every single one. Reading each of these poems was exceptionally uplifting; what an incredible experience it is to read these poems when they are submitted and then, in May, to listen to the students read their work. The poems and the artwork give me so much hope for the future and I know that the members of the audience felt the same way. My hope is that, this year, even more writers will participate and share their writing and their hopes for our future.”

The Peace Poetry Contest and Reading is a program offered under the Service Learning umbrella at NECC. Its goal is to honor the ideal of peace through the creation and submission of works on the topic.

For information, contact Yarborough at eyarborough@necc.mass.edu. Entries can be mailed to peacepoetry@necc.mass.edu or NECC Peace Poetry Contest, 100 Elliott St./Spurk Building Room 317, Haverhill, MA 01830-2399.

This contest is sponsored by the Office of the Vice President for Student and Academic Affairs, Division of Liberal Arts, the English Department and Service Learning Committee.