April is National Poetry Month, and Big Cypress National Preserve is celebrating by hosting its first annual poetry contest. Accepting submissions now through April 15th, the park encourages participants to visit the preserve and write about their experiences there.
Big Cypress National Preserve is one of the United States National Parks, open to the public 24 hours a day. It is comprised of freshwater, and is a watershed to Everglades National Park. Set aside in 1974, it was named Big Cypress in reference to the large size of the area, and the expanses of cypress strands within it. It has a vast number of flora and fauna, and is home to a number of species, including ten federally listed threatened and endangered species—two of which are the famous Florida panthers and West Indian manatees.
Located off of US Highway 41, the park is roughly an hour away from the Marco Island and Naples area, is open year round, all day long, and is a great way to see the natural beauty of Florida’s wild. Volunteers are also welcome and encouraged.
The Poetry contest will have prizes awarded for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, and the poems will be displayed on the Preserve’s Facebook page and website through the months of April and May. The winners will be selected by April 20th, by the staff of the Big Cypress National Preserve.
The poems must be single-spaced and in a 12-point font. They can be written in any format, but must not exceed two pages and must be original and unpublished. Participants can submit up to the three poems, but they must be in by April 15th, and must have a subject related to the natural or cultural history of South Florida—such as the Big Cypress National Preserve inhabitants or the first Marco Island natives, the Calusa Indians. Each poem must also include a title page with the name of the poem, the name of the poet, contact address, email and phone number.
The poems can be submitted by mail to Big Cypress National Preserve—Oasis Visitor Center, 52105 Tamiami Trail East, Ochopee, FL 34141, with the ATTN: Poetry Contest. They can also be submitted by email to Andrew_frieder@nps.gov.