Rap Like Robbie Poetry Competition

By Dunedin Public Libraries | Posted: Monday September 16, 2019

Write a poem inspired by Robert Burns and score yourself $500, sponsored by the Dunedin-Edinburgh Sister City Society!

Image by: Dunedin Public Libraries

Who's Robert Burns?

Robert Burns was a bit of a rock star poet back in the day. He wrote about everything from nature to sex, drinking, poverty, equality, flirting, love, women, and a lot about remorse.

If he was alive today, he might be loading his stuff on Spotify and Tweeting his fans.

Sometimes he wrote in Scots, sometimes in English, and he had a wicked sense of humour.


You can write about whatever you like, in English or you can have a go at writing in Scots. It can be any style - just read a bit of Burns' work and see where it takes you.

Need a bit of help with your poem? Email us and we'll put you in touch with a poet to help workshop your poetry, or you can invite our team of poetry experts to visit your school and run a workshop for your class.

More resources you might find useful to get you started.

To enter, you must be in years 9-11 at high school and a resident of Otago.

Pick up an entry form from any Dunedin Public Library, or download a form to print off, or you can enter online.

The competition closes on Saturday 30th November 2019.


  • 1st prize: Stan Forbes Medal; $500 generously sponsored by the Dunedin-Edinburgh Sister City Society; publication on the Dunedin Public Libraries website and in the Dunedin Public Libraries magazine NB
  • 2nd prize: Certificate; publication on the Dunedin Public Libraries website and in the Dunedin Public Libraries magazine NB
  • 3rd prize: Certificate; publication on the Dunedin Public Libraries website and in the Dunedin Public Libraries magazine NB

All prizewinners will be invited to attend a ceremony to receive their prize on 25th January 2020 (Robert Burns' birthday), at Dunedin City Library. Prizewinners will be asked to read their poem to the audience, but may nominate someone else to read for them if they prefer.


  • The 2019 Robert Burns Teen Poetry Competition runs until Saturday 30 November 2019 inclusive.
  • Entries close at 11.55pm Saturday 30 November 2019.
  • Late entries will not be accepted.
  • A strict word count of 500 words max will be imposed.
  • All poems must be original to the person on the entry form and unpublished (ie you must not have submitted the poem to any previous competition and had it published, and you must not have had your poem published in any publication for payment).
  • Only one entry per person.
  • Entries will be judged anonymously by the selected panel.
  • The decision of the judges is final.
  • Winning entrants will be selected and informed by Friday 13th December 2019.
  • Young poets must be aged between 12 and 14 years inclusive (high school years 9, 10, and 11) at the time of entry.
  • First, Second and Third Prizes will be awarded.
  • First prize package includes a cheque for $500 sponsored by the Dunedin Edinburgh Sister City Society.
  • Winners will be publicly announced and prizes presented on Saturday 25 January 2020 between 12 noon and 1pm, at the Dunedin City Library.
  • 1st Prize winners will be invited to read their poem on collection of their prize, or may choose for their poem to be read on their behalf.
  • Winning entrants will not be funded to attend the official prize-giving.
  • If unable to attend, arrangements will be made for winning prizes to be collected by, or delivered to, the winner.
  • 1st Prize winning poems will be published in the Otago Daily Times and published on the Dunedin Public Libraries website
  • A copy of all entries will be retained by the Dunedin Public Libraries, unless an entrant requests otherwise.
  • Please submit a copy of your original poem as entries will not be returned.

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