The 2nd Annual Poetry Derby

Thank you for your interest in the 2nd annual Poetry Derby. The Poetry Derby will be held on April 20, 2020, in the Shoemaker Gallery at the Kentucky Derby Museum at Churchill Downs. The event is part of the Kentucky Derby Festival. Ten youth-written poems and ten adult-written poems will be selected to be read by their writers on April 20, and there will also be 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in each category. All 20 of the selected poems will be published in a chapbook to be distributed at the culminating reading, which is free and open to the public.

How to play:

Select any of these seven “starting lines” by Kentucky poets. Integrate this line into your own poem in some way—it can be a title, a first line, an epigraph, or a line you work your way toward in the middle or end of your poem. Free verse, formal verse—anything goes, as long as you directly engage with that starting line.

Starting lines from KY natives (and one KY transplant):


Please send your submission of up to three poems (one poem per page in a Word document) to or send a hard copy to the Poetry Derby c/o Kristi Maxwell, Dept. of English, Bingham Humanities 315, 2216 S. 1st Street, University of Louisville Louisville, Kentucky, 40292, no later than March 15, 2020.

Winners will be notified during by April 6, 2020.

For more information, contact Kristi Maxwell: