Poetry Prize Submission Call “How to Love a City”

For this poetry prize submission call, Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) and Indiana Writers Center (IWC) seek submissions for “How to Love a City” a poetry prize celebrating the power of poetry to illuminate wisdom, elicit wonder, and discover meaning. Recognizing the poet’s role as healer, activist, and sage, “How to Love a City” is a juried poetry competition open to published and non-published poets.

Three cash prizes of $500, $250, and $150 will be awarded. The first-place poem will be published in the winter 2021 edition of CTS’s academic journal, Encounter: A Journal of Theological Scholarship, and will be read at the installation of Dr. David M. Mellott, president of Christian Theological Seminary, on September 19. The theme of the presidential installation is “How to Love a City” and the event will usher in a new chapter in the Seminary’s 150+ year history. Read on to learn about the poetry prize submission call.

Submission period: July 1 through August 1, 2021. It is free to submit.

Poetry Prize Submission Call

Poetry Prize Submission Call


To qualify, poets/writers must:

  • – be 18 years of age or older.
  • – be a resident of Indiana with significant ties to Indianapolis or central Indiana, including: Bartholomew, Boone, Brown, Carroll, Clay, Clinton, Daviess, Decatur, Delaware, Fountain, Greene, Hamilton, Hancock, Hendricks, Henry, Howard, Jackson, Jennings, Johnson, Knox, Lawrence, Madison, Marion, Martin, Monroe, Montgomery, Morgan, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Randolph, Rush, Shelby, Sullivan, Tippecanoe, Tipton, Vermillion, Vigo, Warren.      
  • – be willing to meet contractual obligations.


Before submitting, please note that all submissions must…

  • – be a work of poetry. There is no line limit, but poems should be refined and finished. Revisions will not be accepted.
  • – be based on the theme “How to Love a City” and reflect inclusivity and equality – tenants central to the art of Christian hospitality and CTS’s legacy of embracing diversity.
  • – be unpublished.
  • – contain no identifying information on the submission, including in the file name. Filename must be the title of the poem.
  • – be limited to one poem per poet.
  • – be in a single .doc, .docx, or .pdf file.
  • – be submitted through email to ctspoetry@indianawriters.org. Email subject line: “Author Name & Poem Title”
  • – include name and contact information in the body of the email only, and confirm how the entrant meets the eligibility requirements. Entrants may include short biographical information in the body of the email.
  • – no simultaneous submissions. Winners will be informed by 8/30/2021.

More about the Theme “How to Love a City”

“But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” (Jeremiah 29:7, NRSV

Christian Theological Seminary (CTS) will celebrate and install its seventh president on September 19, 2021. With his appointment, Mellott became one of very few openly gay seminary presidents in the country. The installation service will celebrate Mellott’s tenure as CTS’ seventh president and announce a new phase in the seminary’s rich history. Under his leadership, CTS aims to embrace the city of Indianapolis in new and exciting ways. CTS celebrates the appointment of the new president with the poetry prize and installation based on the theme “How to Love a City.”

The relationship between the church, service, the arts, and the city inspired the theme of the presidential installation and the poetry competition. The role of the city has been explored throughout human civilization, from ancient Scriptures and literature to Robert Indiana’s mid-century pop art. Dr. Mellott notes the poetry competition provides a forum for sharing diverse experiences reflecting on what it means to live, learn, work and relate in a city; and how these interconnections can contribute to understanding and a love of place. “The poet offers us creative views of the world in which we live – helping us pay closer attention to our inner and outer realities and making new knowledge possible,” Mellott says. “Poetry is a way of knowing; knowing not only ourselves and our relationship with one another, but the places where we connect with each other and the divine.”

While the jury will be exploring work for its artistic merit, consideration will be given to how submissions reflect inclusivity and equality – tenants central to the art of Christian hospitality and CTS’s legacy of embracing diversity. Dr. Mellott is an advocate for racial, gender and social equity that encourages living gratefully in relationships that promote understanding, humility, and respectful dialogue.


  • – Compensation: Cash prizes for first ($500), second ($250), and third ($150) place poems.
  • – The winning poem will be read at the Installation of Christian Theological Seminary’s seventh president, Dr. David M. Mellott on Sunday, September 19, 2021 at 2pm. (www.cts.edu). The poet is invited to read their poem at the installation.
  • – The first place poem will be published in the winter edition of Encounter: A Journal of Theological Scholarship, the academic journal published by CTS. The second and third place poems will be considered for publication, as well. (for more about the publication: https://cts.libguides.com/c.php?g=167447&p=7613733)

CTS Statement of Inclusivity

Christian Theological Seminary’s legacy and vision are rooted in inclusivity and respect for the dignity of humankind, created by a loving God, and made for relationship. At CTS, we believe that worth and dignity are birthrights of every person and stand independent of one’s age, sex, color, race, creed, national origin, religion, marital status, citizenship status, ancestry, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, physical or mental disability, or social status. Responding to Christ’s love we celebrate one another and seek to learn from one another.

Christian Theological Seminary
Indiana Writers Center

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