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At FOREFRONT Charity, we are passionate about our mission of assisting rural communities in creating sustainable change. In the spirit of forging stronger communities, we are thrilled to announce our first ever poetry competition for charity, with the theme of “Empowerment.” This competition will support our work in rural India to fund basic life necessities through our four pillars of water & sanitation, education, medical care, and empowerment. 100% of your entry will go towards supporting our missions of lifting up communities and empowering individuals in rural India.

In working to overcome barriers to success and allow every person to reach their full potential, our approach is driven by those four pillars. Of the four, our theme for this competition, Empowerment, is the most uplifting. To FOREFRONT Charity, empowerment means facilitating programming that empowers local men, women, and children to take ownership and initiative in their own communities to bridge the sustainability of all our pillars. However, empowerment can take many forms, from individuals speaking up for themselves to communities coming together. The act of writing, especially, is a form of empowerment. We at FOREFRONT Charity want to see your interpretation of this pillar. Subtle or uncompromising, deliberate or dynamic: let your imagination run wild, or ground your poem in real life. Bring us your best and boldest works that interpret the theme in any way.

The top three poems will not only receive a cash prize but also be offered publication in the highly regarded Desi News Magazine, as well as be posted on FOREFRONT Charity. The winners and all shortlisted writers will also be invited to read their winning poem at a virtual reading event hosted by FOREFRONT Charity. We are also delighted to be welcoming two esteemed guest judges for the competition: Ramesh Prabhu, an experienced editor and journalist; and Dr. Vicki Bismilla, an author and retired educator.

Please send entries to poetrycontest@goforefront.org and submit donations here.


FOREFRONT Charity, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, brings sustainability and empowerment to developing countries. We do so by enabling every person, equipping leaders, and establishing self-sustaining communities. Our work is currently in the province of Andhra Pradesh, India. To date, we've built 43 clean water wells for over 70,000 villagers, distributed over 4,500 soap bars, formed women-led soap businesses, launched a state-of-the-art international primary school in Kolluru, India to serve 400 students, provided diabetes workshops, COVID-19 relief, and trained changemakers to create sustainable impacts. In total, we have impacted over 87,000 villagers.

We are proud to be partnering with Desi News Magazine for this competition. Desi News Magazine, now in its 25th well-read year, is Canada's premier South Asian magazine published monthly in print and online. It is the longest-established publication of its kind in Canada. It can be found online at: https://www.e-desinews.com/

Our Judges

FOREFRONT is also honored to be working with two distinguished guest judges for the competition:

Ramesh Prabhu has more than 20 years of experience as a production journalist in India and Dubai, specializing in selecting and editing news reports and features. From 2003 to 2019, he taught journalism and writing skills to Master’s students at a media college in Bangalore. He joined Cactus as a copyediting freelancer in 2019, and now works as an editor there. In his free time, he is a voracious reader, and also enjoys solving cryptic crosswords, playing Scrabble or Wordfeud online, and listening to podcasts, blues, and rock music. His favorite aphorism is “Ars longa, vita brevis” — art lives on, life is short.

Dr. Vicki Bismilla has a doctorate from The University of Toronto (2010) in Second Language Education. She was appointed Principal in 1990, Ministry Education Officer in 1994 and in 1999 was appointed Superintendent of Education for The York Region District School Board where she served until 2005. From 2005 to 2012, she served as Vice-President Academic and Chief Learning Officer for Centennial College. In 2010, she won the Harmony Award for Leadership in Equity and Inclusive Education. Retired since 2012, Dr. Bismilla writes a monthly column for Desi News magazine and has published two novels: Forbidden/Verboten (2014) based on apartheid South Africa, (I.O.W.I. Publications); and Indentured! A Labourer’s Journey (2016) about Indian labourers indentured by The British Raj (Tamarind Tree Books).

Competition Information

  • The poetry competition will run from July 7, 2021 to August 7, 2021. Submissions sent after 11:59PM EST on August 7, 2021 will no longer be accepted.
  • Entry to the competition is open internationally and to all ages.
  • Entries should be poems, no longer than 2 pages, with the text in a 12-point, legible font. Remove all identifying information from the file before sending, as the work will be judged anonymously.
  • Please send entries to poetrycontest@goforefront.org, with the subject line “Empowerment Contest: Firstname Lastname.” Poems should be attached to the email in .doc, .docx, or .pdf format. In the body of the email, include a brief cover letter in addition to your receipt number(s) providing proof of donation.
  • The donation fee for one entry is $4. For three entries, the donation fee is $10. Submit donations here.
  • For an additional $10 donation, receive broad editorial feedback for a single entry, or $15 for line-by-line feedback for a single entry. In your email, please indicate which piece you want feedback on.
  • There is no limit to the number of entries a writer may submit, but each entry will require its own donation fee.
  • The poems submitted must be written primarily in English, the original work of the writer, and previously unpublished (not including personal blogs or social media). Entries must be rated PG.
  • Simultaneous submissions are welcome! If the entry is accepted elsewhere, please email at poetrycontest@goforefront.org to let us know.
  • The first, second, and third place winners will be announced in mid-August. First place will win $100, with second place winning $50, and third place winning an exclusive FOREFRONT Charity water bottle. The winners and shortlisted writers will be invited to perform their work at a virtual reading event to be hosted after the winners are announced. All three winners will have their poems posted on FOREFRONT Charity’s website and be offered publication at Desi News. FOREFRONT Charity will only ask for first electronic rights and non-exclusive archival rights; all copyright of the work will remain with the writers.
  • Any questions can be directed to poetrycontest@goforefront.org

We at FOREFRONT look forward to receiving your entry, and thank you for your donations helping us to empower tomorrow’s transformational leaders today.



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