Call for Judges: Power of the Pen

The 30th Annual Power of the Pen is Hamilton Public Library's long-standing competition for teens. Teens ages 12-18 from Hamilton and surrounding areas can submit poems and short stories (in English, French or both) to receive feedback from writing professionals. First and second-place entries qualify for the Hamilton Association for the Advancement of Literature, Science and Art's (HAALSA) Maitland Banting Silver Quill Award or Poetry Award.  

As adults, past winners have used their writing skills to inform, inspire, entertain and persuade in careers as journalists, authors, artists, lawyers, politicians and teachers.  

This year, we have the following Volunteer Judge opportunities available:  

  • Poetry and Short Story categories for ages 12-15: local English teachers and Children and Young Adult authors Canada-wide.  

  • Poetry and Short Story categories for ages 16-18: Children and Young Adult authors Canada-wide and local English teachers.

  • French Poetry and Short Story categories for ages 12-18: Francophone writers and educators Canada-wide. 

Volunteer Judges can expect to receive an electronic package of entries in November 2024 and have one month to review, provide brief feedback, choose a 1st- and 2nd-place winner and any (optional) Honourable Mentions. Specific details are in the package, including best practices for providing feedback on youth writing. Volunteer Judges receive a $25 gift certificate to a local independent bookstore for their time and efforts.  

In recruiting for this Volunteer team, HPL welcomes the unique contributions one brings in: education, opinions, culture, ethnicity, race, sex, gender identity and expression, nation of origin, age, languages spoken, veteran's status, colour, religion, disability, sexual orientation and beliefs. Hamilton Public Library is an equal opportunity employer and strives to build balanced teams.  

Learn more information about the annual writing competition:  

If you have any questions or are interested in a Volunteer Judge role or providing feedback, support, and encouragement to teen writers, please email