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:  $1,000
2nd prize: $500
3rd prize:  $200


1st prize:  $1,000
2nd prize: $500
3rd prize:  $200


1st prize:  $1,000
2nd prize: $500
3rd prize:  $200


(Entries must be submitted by November 30, 2019Scroll down to submit yours.)

Finalists will perform at the Kenneth G. Mills Poetry and Singer-Songwriter Awards Gala (TBA)

Contest Rules


Poetry 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. Singer Song-Writer Entrants must reside in the City of Toronto and can be any age (school not pertinent). Singer-Songwriter recorded entries may be performed by the songwriter or a singer chosen by the songwriter.

The poetry or songwriting submission (one entry per applicant) must be an original, unpublished work written in English by the entrant.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 Friendship, Revelation, and Miracle.

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 Friendship, Revelation, and Miracle may open in your imagination and expression.

Friendship – “Friendship is based on constancy, friendship is based on knowing your neighbour because you know your name, your Self, and that is how the world should come to terms with difference. D sounds totally different than C and E sounds totally different than D. F sounds totally different than C, D or E, but they all get along beautifully because each one bears a uniqueness that can form a scale that is so agreeable to the ear that you call it a major one of delight.” (Kenneth G. Mills)

Revelation – “A revelation is not describing anew something old; it is revealing an aspect of what is old in the Light of Timeless Reality.”   (Kenneth G. Mills)

Miracle – “Miracle is the lessening of objective confinement.” (Kenneth G. Mills).

Closing Date For Entries

Your poem or song, and application form, must be submitted by November 30, 2019.


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 December 15, 2019 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 prior to the Gala.


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 – TBA

The winners will be awarded their prize at the Kenneth G. Mills Poetry and Singer-Songwriter Awards Gala.

Nine 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.

The winners’ poems and lyrics will be published 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.