Credit: Courtesy

U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón is coming to town on April 25, and in honor of her visit — and National Poetry Month — the Santa Barbara Independent and UCSB Arts & Lectures (A&L) are co-presenting a poetry contest.

We have two categories — K-12 students and age 18-plus — and all participants are invited to submit an original unpublished poem about the qualities of leadership and vision inspired by Limón’s poem “Instructions on Not Giving Up.” The contest will be judged by a panel of distinguished poets, including Robert Krut (UCSB Writing Program, College of Creative Studies), Melinda Palacio (author of the novel Ocotillo Dreams and three books of poetry), and Chryss Yost (Santa Barbara Poet Laureate 2013-2015).

One winner in each category will have their poem published in the Santa Barbara Independent, and each winner will also receive a copy of Limón’s book The Hurting Kind, a $50 gift certificate to Chaucer’s Books, and a $500 A&L ticket voucher good through 2024. 

Send your original, unpublished poem to by Friday, April 14, at 5 p.m. with the subject line “AandLPoetry.” Be sure to indicate your submission level (K-12 or Age 18+). For more information on the contest, click here. Winners will be announced on Friday, April 21 at and, and will also be acknowledged at Limón’s appearance on Tuesday, April 25, at 7:30 p.m. at UCSB’s Campbell Hall.

The first woman of Mexican ancestry to be named U.S. Poet Laureate, Ada Limón has said she views identity — and poetry — as avenues to greater possibilities. We are honored to co-present this contest and event with UCSB Arts & Lectures Thematic Learning Initiative.

Instructions on Not Giving Up
By Ada Limón

More than the fuchsia funnels breaking out
of the crabapple tree, more than the neighbor’s
almost obscene display of cherry limbs shoving
their cotton candy-colored blossoms to the slate
sky of Spring rains, it’s the greening of the trees
that really gets to me. When all the shock of white
and taffy, the world’s baubles and trinkets, leave
the pavement strewn with the confetti of aftermath,
the leaves come. Patient, plodding, a green skin
growing over whatever winter did to us, a return
to the strange idea of continuous living despite
the mess of us, the hurt, the empty. Fine then,
I’ll take it, the tree seems to say, a new slick leaf
unfurling like a fist to an open palm, I’ll take it all.

Copyright © 2017 by Ada Limón. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on May 15, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.


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