New Contest Invites Black High Schoolers to Enter Their Best Muhammad Ali-Inspired Poetry

By Sameer Rao Apr 10, 2017

Famous during his lifetime for his own prose style—"float like a butterfly, sting like a bee"—the late Muhammad Ali inspires a new poetry contest for emerging young Black writers and performers. 

The Campaign for Black Male Achievement‘s (CBMA) "Ali Prose" competition invites Black high school seniors to create and submit works that draw from Ali’s legacy. A description on the CBMA’s website notes that the contest builds off the organization’s "Rumble Young Man, Rumble" convening, which brings Black men and boys to Ali’s hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, for various interpersonal growth- and collaboration-focused programs. The convening made video of the capstone awards ceremony from last December’s sixth annual program available here

The competition is open to all Black students in their last year of high school. Would-be entrants must compose a poem in 20 lines or less that speaks "to the legacy of Muhammad Ali and one of his six core principles—confidence, conviction, dedication, giving, respect and spirituality." Judges include Haki Madhubuti, who published a new poem about Ali soon after the boxer’s death last June, and slam poetry competition winners from Philly Youth Poetry Movement. The top three poets will receive between $250 to $1,000 in scholarships. 

Ali poets must submit their work by April 28. Find the form here