2019-2020 Call for Submissions

Deadline extended to Sunday, December 8, 2019!

Students in grades K-12 from Nebraska and Iowa are invited to submit works of poetry on themes of creativity, community, identity, and youth. Selected poems will be set to music and premiered during a public concert on April 26th, 2020.

From the pool of submissions, composers Matt Browne and Frances Pollock will select poems to set to music. This is not a contest, as the composers will select poems based on what inspires them. The selected poets will have the opportunity to participate with the composer in a workshop to further develop the piece with the composer and musicians, participating in the behind-the-scenes process. The completed works will be performed in concert by Opera Omaha’s Holland Community Artist Fellows as vocalists and local musicians.

Opera Omaha’s Poetry & Music Project is produced in partnership with Nebraska Writers Collective and American Opera Projects.

Themes for Poetry Submissions





Suggested Writing Prompts

1. How does Creativity come into your life? Writing, music, sketching, dance, amazing practical jokes? How does it make your life better? What is hard about it?

Here’s just one idea to write about: What is your favorite work of art made by someone who’s not you (a poem, a painting, a song, a sculpture)? Write a poem where you talk to the author/artist who made it. What would they tell you? Make up 2 things that would surprise you if they said it about the work. Give them personality, make them human, different, interesting, and let that personality (true or not) shine through.

Poems for Inspiration:
Oatmeal by Galway Kinnell
This poem, Stealing the Scream by Monica Youn, is about the theft of the famous painting

2. Who makes up your Community? What does that word, “Community,” mean to you? How many different communities are you part of?

Define “Community” through a poem. Not the word, not someone else’s: yours (or one of yours). Use at least 7 specific details. Use all the senses so we know the specific sounds, tastes, etc. What makes it special? What makes it challenging? What makes it yours?

Poems for Inspiration:
Grace by Joy Harjo
Maxwell Street by Adam Gottlieb

3. What is your Identity? That is to say, who are you, how do you identify yourself, what are the things people might not guess just by looking at you? What WOULD they guess just by looking at you?

Is there a space that identifies you? A coffee shop, your bedroom, a volleyball court, a hidden spot by the creek? List 5 specific things you would see there. 5 specific sounds you’d hear there. 5 specific smells, textures, tastes. And by specific, I don’t mean “Green carpet;” I mean “Carpet that’s the same green as the cheap Leprechaun top hats you’d see at Target the week before Saint Patrick’s Day. Use as many of these as you can in the poem so that you show your Identity by the things here that surround you, that you’ve gathered.

Poems for Inspiration:
Invictus by William Ernest Henley
A Geneology by Hanif Abdurraqib

4. What does Youth mean when you hear people refer to “Youth” or “The Youth”? What is amazing about youth? What is challenging about youth? What do you wish older people knew about being young in today’s world? What contrasts do you have from when you were younger to now?

Answer one, some, or all of these questions by starting a poem and seeing what happens.

Poems for Inspiration:
The Only Good Things About High School by the Millard South Louder Than A Bomb Team

Poetry & Music Project Composers

Want to learn more about the Poetry & Music Project Composers or get some music inspirations?
Visit their websites to hear samples of their music:
Matt Browne
Frances Pollock

Writing Workshops

Opera Omaha and Nebraska Writers Collective are facilitating writing workshops focused on writing for music. Teachers interested in scheduling a workshop should email poetry@operaomaha.org.

Workshops will be scheduled on a first come first serve basis.

Project Timeline

September 2019 - Submissions Open
Late September - October 2019 - Writing Workshops
Early December 2019 - Submission Deadline
December 2019 - Composers Select Poems
January 2020 - Poets of Selected Pieces Notified, Composers Writing Time
March 2020 - Music Workshop with Composers and Poets of the Selected Pieces
March 2020 - Composers Submit Final Pieces
April 2020 - Poetry & Music Project Concert Performance

Submission Guidelines

Open to All K-12 Students in Nebraska and Iowa
Students may submit up to 2 poems
All work must be original
Poems should be in PDF or Word file format
Poems may be in any structure, but will be more conducive to being set to music if they are under 250 words
Poems must be submitted with completed and signed submission form

Submission Instructions

Email Poem(s) and completed signed submission form to poetry@operaomaha.org
Submission Deadline: Sunday, December 8, 2019

For More Information
Contact: Lauren Medici | Opera Omaha Director of Engagement Programs
Lmedici@operaomaha.org | 402-346-7372