Ohio’s Original Interscholastic Creative Writing Program for Middle Schools

2021 Power of the Pen State Tournament

The 2021 State Tournament, hosted virtually by Otterbein University on Saturday, May 15, is the culminating event of the year for Ohio's 7th and 8th grade Power of the Pen writers. Students earn a spot in the state tournament with exceptional writing at the district and regional events. On this page, you'll find the entry form for the poetry contest for state qualifiers, an opportunity to order T-shirts, and information about books by guest author Jack Gantos. Visit this page frequently; we will be adding links for the state program, Book of Winners orders, and more!

A Word of Thanks

As a 501(c)(3) organization, Power of the Pen depends on funding from donors and sponsors to provide a place for 7th and 8th grade writers to shine. Thank you to sponsors and special contributors to the 2021 State Tournament!

Otterbein University
In addition to serving as virtual host, Otterbein is the title sponsor of this year's state tournament. 

St. Raphael Home and School
When the St. Raphael tournament in December was cancelled due to the pandemic, St. Raphael Home and School generously donated to the state tournament.

Turner Foundation of Springfield
A longtime supporter of Power of the Pen, The Turner Foundation of Springfield provides grant funding for our program throughout the year, including for district and regional tournaments, the state tournament, and the Book of Winners.

Power of the Pen Founders' Award at the Springfield Foundation
We are saddened at the recent loss of our founders, Frank and Lorraine Merrill. In their memory, family members established the Power of the Pen Founders' Award to honor an outstanding 8th grade writer. The Founders' Award will be presented annually at the state tournament.

State Tournament Registration

Registration is open April 5 through April 30. Only schools may register for the state tournament by visiting the state registration page of the website, which becomes available April 5. (Parents may not register their child.) Read through the details on the state registration page to ensure that you have everything ready to register. When registering, choose the link for the region in which you participated during the 2020-2021 season.

Tournament Writing Schedule

Writing rounds will take place on Saturday, May 15.
The schedule is:

Round 1: 9:00 to 9:40 a.m.

Round 2: 9:55 to 10:35 a.m.

Round 3: 10:50 to 11:30 a.m.

Enter the Poetry Contest by April 20

State Qualifiers: Enter the 2021 Power of the Pen Poetry contest! The contest is open for entries April 5-20. Entries must fit on one page and can be submitted using the Poetry Contest Google Form. Each student may enter only one poem. Please submit your entry with a parent or guardian. A Google account is required. If your school account will not allow you to access the form, please use a parent or guardian Google account.

Students' writing will be judged by George Bilgere, who has published six collections of poetry and has won numerous awards for his work. Dr. Bilgere is also a creative writing professor at John Carroll University. Winning poetry will be featured in the 2021 State Program and the 2021 Book of Winners.

Order T-Shirts by May 4

Power of the Pen is commemorating this extraordinary season with T-shirts, available to students, coaches, family and friends! 

Carrying the message “Extraordinary year, extraordinary stories,” each
T-shirt costs $15 plus sales tax and shipping, and will be sent directly to each purchaser. We are pleased to be working with Albert Sporting Goods of St. Marys, who is running the T-shirt sale. Orders may be placed at this link through May 4. Instructions for ordering may be found in this flyer.

Meet Guest Author Jack Gantos

Jack Gantos will deliver the keynote presentation at 7 p.m. Friday, May 14. Coaches will receive a link to share with state tournament participants.

Jack has written books for readers of all ages, from picture books and middle-grade fiction to novels for young adults and adults. His works include Hole in My Life, a memoir that won the Michael L. Printz and Robert F. Sibert honors; Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, a National Book Award Finalist, Joey Pigza Loses Control, a Newbery Honor book, and Dead End in Norvelt, the 2012 Newbery Medal Winner, and the Scott O’Dell Award Winner for Best Historic Fiction.

Jack says he decided to become a writer when he was in high school. But he would have to wait another three years, until he went to college, before he could actually meet other writers and study with teachers who thought writing amounted to more than just cribbing book reports and composing sympathy notes.

While in college, he and an illustrator friend, Nicole Rubel, began working on picture books. After a series of rejections, they published their first book, Rotten Ralph, in 1976. It was a success and the beginning of Jack’s career as a professional writer.

Jack continued to write children’s books and began to teach courses in children’s book writing and children’s literature. He developed the master’s degree program in children’s book writing at Emerson College and the Vermont College M.F.A. program for children’s book writers. He now devotes his time to writing books and educational speaking. As you can tell from the picture, Jack has become quite adept at Zoom presentations. However, he is available for school visits in fall 2021. Visit https://jackgantos.com.

Books by Jack Gantos

Check out Jack's website for a complete list of his works. Writing Radar is a must-read for coaches and writers. With his trademark humor, Jack offers advice for finding stories in our everyday lives. Writing Radar includes snippets from Jack's own journals.

Additional must-reads:
The Joey Pigza series
Dead End in Norvelt
From Norvelt to Nowhere

For older readers:
The Trouble in Me
Hole in My Life

And many more! Order from Amazon Smile and choose Power of the Pen to donate 0.5% of the purchase price to Power of the Pen.

Scenes From the 2020-2021 Season

Power of the Pen
PO Box 442  |  Richfield, Ohio 44286

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