Kenneth G. Mills Poetry and Singer-Songwriter Prizes

The Kenneth G. Mills Foundation is pleased to sponsor the Kenneth G. Mills Poetry and Singer-Songwriter Prizes, awarded for the fine poetry and songwriting of City of Toronto students at high school, college, or university. They are offered to encourage and recognize the talent and creativity of young people.

Dr. Kenneth G. Mills (1923–2004) was an accomplished poet, composer, conductor, and metaphysician. During his lifetime he published four volumes of poetry (what he described as “word paintings”), and many of his poems were set to music and performed by the a cappella ensemble the Star-Scape Singers at Carnegie Hall in New York and throughout North America, Europe, and the (then) U.S.S.R. Once, when asked, “What is poetry?” Dr. Mills replied: “Prose dressed up for a ball.”

Bring out your finest poetry and song and apply now (see application form below). You could win a cash prize and the opportunity to perform your work . . . at the ball!



1st prize:  $500
2nd prize: $250
3rd prize:  $150
4th prize:  $100


1st prize:  $500
2nd prize: $250
3rd prize:  $150
4th prize:  $100


1st prize:  $500
2nd prize: $250
3rd prize:  $150
4th prize:  $100

(Entries must be submitted by March 15, 2018Scroll down to submit yours.)

Finalists will perform at the Kenneth G. Mills Poetry and Singer-Songwriter Awards Gala
May 5, 2018 – 7:30 p.m.
The Heliconian Hall
35 Hazelton Avenue
Toronto, Ontario

Contest Rules


Entrants must be 25 years of age or younger and attending a high school, university, or college in the City of Toronto. Prize winners will be required to show proof of age and studentship.

The poetry or songwriting submission (one entry per applicant) must be an original, unpublished work written in English by the entrant. Any work that has appeared on the Internet or in print, or has been broadcast in any format, is considered published and is therefore ineligible. Each entry must be the work of a single author and must not infringe upon any right or copyright of any person or entity.

Entrants warrant that they have created the work that they are submitting and that they own the rights to it.

Theme of Poem or Song

The three themes this year are Wonder, Inspiration, and Peace.

Please select one theme for your poem or song. Here are three quotations from Dr. Kenneth G. Mills, the poet, composer, and conductor whose considerations on sponsoring the arts have inspired this event. These statements are examples of how the ideas of Wonder, Inspiration, and Peace may open in your imagination and expression.

Wonder – “If we are not a wonder, we are never open to poetry or philosophy, because the doorway to each of these avenues of expression has to be through Wonder” (Kenneth G. Mills).

Inspiration – “The mind that is open to inspiration knows that it is just the vehicle through which the inspiration flows” (Kenneth G. Mills).

Peace – “Love evidences itself as Peace! That’s the Peace that passeth the understanding. You can’t have peace; all you can be is Love and the evidence, Peace” (Kenneth G. Mills).

Closing Date

Your poem or song, and application form, must be submitted by March 15, 2018.


Students will submit their poem or song lyrics with the online application form. Songwriters must also send an MP3 or MP4 recording of their performance of their song; they may accompany themselves on guitar or piano or may have someone else accompany them.

Criteria of Writing

Consider using some of the following points when writing an effective poem or song:

Theme – The poem or song explores or relates to one of the themes of the contest.
Drama – The poem or song captures or effectively implies a compelling story.
Imagery – Figurative language creates rich or broad sensory appeal.
Impact – The poem or song evokes an emotional response in the reader.
Originality – The idea, perspective, or presentation is unique and fresh.


The twelve winners will be notified by April 10, 2018 and given information regarding the opportunity to present their poems and songs at the Kenneth G. Mills Poetry and Singer-Songwriter Awards Gala.

Dress Rehearsal for Gala

Finalists for the poetry and singer-songwriter prizes will be required to attend one rehearsal prior to the gala to ensure a quality presentation of their work. The rehearsal will take place during the last three weeks of April.


Copyright remains with the author of the poem or song. By submitting an entry, the entrant grants the Kenneth G. Mills Foundation the right to publish the entry online and/or in print in the case that the entry is selected for the poetry or singer-songwriters prizes. Entrants whose poem or song is selected for a prize agree to have their name and/or picture used for promotional purposes related to the competition.

Award Ceremony and Gala – May 5, 2018, at 7:30 p.m.

The winners will be awarded their prize at the Kenneth G. Mills Poetry and Singer-Songwriter Awards Gala on May 5, 2018, at the Heliconian Hall, 35 Hazelton Avenue, Toronto, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Twelve finalists will recite their poem or perform their song, and the awards will be given at the gala. Attendance at the gala is mandatory in order to receive a prize. A piano is available at the hall for singer-songwriters who wish to use it for their performance, or they may wish to use their own guitar, another instrument, or recorded accompaniment by one instrument.

A special addition to this year’s gala will be the publication of the finalists’ poems and lyrics in a book that the finalists will receive as an acknowledgment of their achievement. Copies of the book will be available for purchase by friends and family members.


(All fields are required.)

  • Accepted file types: pdf, docx, mp3, mp4.
    Upload the poem or song you're entering for the prize. (maximum file size: 8MB)
  • By clicking the Submit Entry button, you agree to the Rules.

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