Rules and FAQ

(Make sure you read the contest overview first.)

Submission Rules


Genre: Any

Length: 500 words or less

Language: Written in or translated to English (if translated, word-count will apply to the original. Extra points for poems originally written in another language.)

Content: Poems with content deemed inappropriate, racist or otherwise offensive will be disqualified. No cuss words, please. DO NOT STATE YOUR NAME ANYWHERE IN THE POEM.

Format: PDF or Word attached to submission. Label file with your name and poem title.


Genre: Tik-Tok-style vertical video reel. Can be short sequence or one clip. Use of text on screen and graphics encouraged.

Length: 3 minutes or less. Those running over will be disqualified.

Language: English (or with English subtitles). Extra points for closed captions/bilingual.

Content: Films with content deemed inappropriate, racist or otherwise offensive will be disqualified. No cuss words, please.

Include: Title and credits for any information, images, audio or video clips that are not your own.

Format: Save film with name and title as the file name. Upload film in mov, f4v or other common format via DropBox, Google Drive, SharePoint or other online file sharing service. You can also upload to YouTube or Vimeo and enter the unlisted URL on your submission. (We will need your original if you are a finalist.) DO NOT UPLOAD TO TIKTOK!


Is there a fee?

No. The contest is free to enter.

Can we submit as a group (e.g. for a video)?

Entries can be submitted by individuals or groups. Groups must name each member involved, as well as one contact person. Prizes must be split among group members.

Can I submit more than one entry?

Students may submit only one entry per category (one poem, not two), but may submit to both categories in their grade division (e.g. a poem AND a film).

What else do I need to submit?

SPONSOR: All students MUST name an adult sponsor (e.g. a teacher, librarian, parent) to confirm entries are their own work. This sponsor MUST be responsive to email.

RELEASE: All participants must also upload a signed release form (available on the submission page after entries open). Please email if you need a form mailed to you.

How do I know you got my submission?

You will receive a confirmation email within a week of submitting. If no email is received, please contact All submissions will receive a Round Table pizza coupon and Ocean Fest sticker in the mail to the address given in the form.

All finalists and winners will be notified by email before they are publicly announced.

Who are the judges?

Our judges include professional poets and filmmakers. All judging decisions are final.

What are the judges looking for?

Imagination, depth of ideas, originality, good use of voice, effective communication of ideas, a cohesive and coherent theme, engaging writing, accuracy of ocean issues/facts, adherence to competition theme, and mentioning Tacoma in some way

Plus in Poetry: Variety of literary techniques and word use, precision of words, good use of form and overall quality

And in Film: Variety of shots and angles, clean editing, use of audio and text on screen to tell story, overall quality

Other important information?

  • All entries must be the applicant’s original work and may not infringe copyright, intellectual property, legal or moral rights of others. If existing material is used for inspiration and is in the public domain, please cite the source in notes or a credit slide. Suspected or determined plagiarism will result in disqualification.
  • Rights, licenses, consents and permissions must be obtained from third parties for any copyrighted material included in the submission (e.g. quotes, audio, footage, stills).
  • Tacoma Ocean Fest reserves the right to use students’ entries for promotional purposes for itself and affiliated groups, including but not limited to websites, blogs, social media, news media, public readings/screenings and other presentations.
  • Tacoma Ocean Fest promises to run this contest fairly and ethically.