Monday, September 1, 2014

Poetry Manuscripts: 1st-Book Poetry Contests

If you've written your first full-length (48 pages or more) poetry manuscript and are considering submitting it to contests, this page might be of use to you. Here is a partial list of first-book and first / second book contests for poetry manuscripts that are open to poets writing in English. Some caveats:
  • The URLs provided below were accurate when I entered the information, but they might not be so now.
  • Be sure to read the guidelines carefully for changes in
    • status. It may no longer be a first-book contest.
    • restrictions. I've tried to identify any limitations and restrictions, such as the contest is offered only in certain years or requires that the poet be from a certain area. That said, a publisher may have since changed or added restrictions.
  • Most, if not all, of the contests below charge a submission fee. 

1913 Press, 1st book contest, 1913 Prize for First Books
* 2015 winners: Laura Vena, X/She: Stardraped and Andrew Wessels, A Turkish Dictionary
* 2014 winner: Leif Haven, Arcane Rituals from the Future
* 2013 winner: Jane Lewty, Bravura Cool
* 2012 winner: Scott McFarland, O, Human Microphone

ABZ Press, 1st book contest, First Book Award, starting in 2014, accepts submissions every other year. 
* 2014 winner: Pamela Davis, Lunette
* 2013 winner: Jean McDonough, Traceries
* 2012 winner: Melissa Tuckey, Tenuous Chapel

Academy of American Poets, 1st book contest, Walt Whitman Award; limited to citizens of the United States
* 2016 winner: Mai Der Vang, Afterland
* 2015 winner: Sjohnna McCray, Rapture
* 2014 winner: Hannah Sanghee Park, The Same-Different
* 2013 winner: Chris Hosea, Put Your Hands In
* 2012 winner: Matt Rasmussen, Black Aperture

Black Lawrence Press, 1st book contest for poems or short stories, The St. Lawrence Book Award (only poetry winners are listed here)
* 2015 winnter: Alexandra Lytton Regalado, Matria
* 2014 winner: short-story winner
* 2013 winner: KMA Sullivan, Necessary Fire

BOA Editions, 1st book contest,  A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize, limited to citizens and legal residents of the United States
* 2015 winner: Derrick Austin , Trouble the Water
* 2014 winner: Devin Becker, Shame | Shame
* 2013 winner: Geffrey Davis, Revising the Storm
* 2012 winner: Ryan Teitman, Litany for the City

 Briery Creek Press1st book contest, Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry
* 2014 winner: B. A. Goodjohn, Bone Song
* 2013 winner: Natalie Giarratano, Leaving Clean
* 2012 winner: Greg McBride, Porthole

Carolina Wren Press, 1st or 2nd book contest, Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series, accepts submissions every other year (in 2011 for a 2012 winner, in 2013 for a 2014 winner, etc.)
* 2014 winner: Charles Wyatt, Goldberg – Variations
* 2013 winner: n/a
* 2012 winner: L. Lamar Wilson, Sacrilegion

Cave Canem, 1st book contest, Cave Canem Poetry Prize; limited to African-American poets
* 2015 winner: Donika Kelly, Bestiary
* 2014 winner: Rickey Laurentiis, Boy with Thorn
* 2013 winner: F. Douglas Brown, Zero to Three
* 2012 winner: Dexter Booth, Scratching the Ghost

Cider Press Review,1st or 2nd book contest,  CPR Editors Prize 
* 2015 winner: Susan Azar Porterfield, Dirt, Root, Silk
* 2014 winner: Sarah Estes, Field Work
* 2013 winner: Laura Donnelly, Watershed
* 2012 winner: Susan Laughter MeyersMy Dear, Dear Stagger Grass

Cleveland State University Poetry Center,1st book contest,  First Book Award 
* 2015 winner: Leora Fridman, My Fault
* 2014 winner: Siwar Masannat, 50 Water Dreams
* 2013 winner: Chloe Honum, The Tulip Flame
* 2012 winner: Rebecca Gayle Howell, Render / An Apocalypse

Coconut Books, 1st book contest, The Joanna Cargill Coconut Book Prize for a First Book [This press has closed.]
* 2013 co-winner: Alexis Pope, Soft Thread
* 2013 co-winner: Tyler Gobble, More Wreck More Wreck
* 2012 winner: Ji Yoon Lee, Foreigner's Folly: A Tale of Attempted Project

Copper Nickel, 1st or 2nd book contest, The Jake Adam York Prize [2016 is the inaugural year for this prize.]

Crab Orchard Review, 1st book contest, First Book Award; limited to citizens and permanent residents of the United States
* 2015 winner: Charif Shanahan, Into Each Room We Enter Without Knowing
* 2014 winner: Gregory Kimbrell, The Primitive Observatory
* 2013 winner: Noel Crook, Salt Moon
* 2012 winner: Tarfia Faizullah, Seam

Elixir Press, 1st book contest, Antivenom Poetry Award
* 2015 winner:  John Estes, Sure Extinction
* 2014 winner:  Lisa Bickmore, flicker
* 2013 winner: Kirun Kapur, Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist
* 2012 winner: David Ray Vance, Stupor

Four Way Books, 1st book contest, Intro Prize in Poetry; contest appears to be offered every other year in even years (2012, 2014, etc.)
* 2014 winner: Rajiv Mohabir, The Taxidermist's Cut
* 2013 winner: n/a
* 2012 winner: David Daniels, Clean

Kelsey Street Press, 1st book contest, First Books by Women Writers; limited to female poets
* 2015 winner: Jennifer Pilch, Deus Ex Machina
* 2014 winner: Jasmine Dreame Wagner, Rings
* 2013 winner: Sabrina Dalla Valle, 7 Days and Nights in the Desert (Tracing the Origin)

Kore Press, 1st book contest,  First Book Award; limited to female poets
* 2015 winner: Zayne Turner, Body Burden
* 2014 winner: Monica Ong, Silent Anatomies
* 2013 winner: Jen McClanaghan, River Legs

Kundiman, 1st book contest, The Kundiman Poetry Prize, limited to Asian-American poets
* 2015 winner: Rajiv Mohabir, The Cowherd's Son
* 2014 winner: Janine Joseph, Driving Without a License
* 2013 winner: Lo Kwa Mei-En, Yearling
* 2012 winner: Cathy Linh Che, Split

New Issues, 1st book contest,  New Issues Poetry Prize
* 2016 winner: Courtney Kampa, Our Lady of Not Asking Why
* 2015 winner: Sawnie Morris, Her, Infinite
* 2014 winner: Abdul Ali, Trouble Sleeping
* 2013 winner: Kerrin McCadden, Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes
* 2012 winner: Marni Ludwig, Pinwheel

New Rivers Press, 1st or 2nd book contest,  MVP (Many Voices Project) Competition
* 2015 winner: Carol Kapaun Ratchenski, A Beautiful Hell
* 2014 winner: unknown (unable to find who won)
* 2013 winner:  Julie Gard, Home Studies
* 2012 winner: Brandon Krieg, Invasives

Omnidawn, 1st or 2nd book contest, 1st/2nd Book Prize
* 2015 winner: Jennifer S. Cheng, House A
* 2014 winner: Margaret Ross, A Timeshare
* 2013 winner: Eric Ekstrand, Laodicea
* 2012 winner: Robin Clarke, Lines the Quarry
Pavement Saw Press, 1st or 2nd book contest, Transcontinental Poetry Award [This contest appears to be defunct.]
* 2014 winner: n/a (contest suspended for 2014)
* 2013 winner: unknown (unable to find who won)
* 2012 winner: Ethan Saul Bull, Shut Off the Flowers

Persea Books, 1st book contest, Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize, limited to female poets who are American citizens
* 2015 winner: Kimberly Grey, The Opposite of Light
* 2014 winner: Susannah Nevison, Teratology
* 2013 winner: Leslie Shinn, Inside Spiders
* 2012 winner: Allison Seay, To See the Queen

Perugia Press, 1st or 2nd book contest, Perugia Press Prize, limited to female poets
* 2015 winner: Jenifer Browne Lawrence, Grayling
* 2014 winner: Corrie Williamson, Sweet Husk
* 2013 winner: Gail Martin, Begin Empty-Handed

Poetry Foundation, 1st book contest, Emily Dickinson Poetry Prize, limited to poets who are at least 40 yrs old and American citizens; contest is not offered every year
* 2017 winner: Kristen Tracy, Half-Hazard
* 2012 winner: Hailey Leithauser, Swoop

Red Dragonfly Press, 1st book contest,  The David Martinson - Meadowhawk Prize
* 2015 winner: Susan Cohen, A Different Wakeful Animal
* 2014 winner: Francine Sterle, What Thread? 
* 2013 winner: Chad Hanson, Patches of Light

Sage Hill Press, 1st book contest, Powder Horn Prize
* 2014 winner: Jeffrey Tucker, Kill February
* 2013 winner: unknown (unable to find who won/unsure if there was a contest that year)
* 2012 winner: Marci Rae Johnson, The Eyes the Window

Silverfish Review Press, 1st book contest, Gerald Cable Book Award
* 2014 winner: Robert Hunter Jones, Winter Garden
* 2013 winner: Randolph Thomas, The Course of the Telling
* 2012 winner: Raphael DagoldBastard Heart

Switchback Books, 1st or 2nd book contest, Gatewood Prize; limited to female poets
* 2014 winner: Cyrstal CurryBut I Have Realized It: A Motivational Poem in Little Arcs
* 2013 winner: Morgan Parker, Other People's Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night
* 2012 winner: Stefania Heim, A Table that Goes on for Miles

Tebot Bach, 1st book contest, Patricia Bibby First Book Award
* 2016 winner: Ephraim Scott Sommers, The Night We Set the Dead Kid on Fire
* 2015 winner: Ezra Feldman, Habitat of Stones
* 2014 winner: David Ebanbach, We Were the People Who Moved
* 2013 winner: Erin Malone, Hover
* 2012 winner: Myles Gordon, Inside the Splintered Wood

The American Poetry Review, 1st book contest, Honickman First Book Prize; limited to citizens of the United States
* 2015 winner: Alicia Jo Rabins, Divinity School
* 2014 winner: Katherine Bode-Lang, The Reformation
* 2013 winner: Maria Hummel, House and Fire
* 2012 winner: Tomás Q. Morín, A Larger Country

Trio House Press, 1st or 2nd book contest, Trio Award; limited to poets residing within the United States
* 2016 winner: Mary Cisper, Dark Tussock Moth
* 2015 winner: Carolyn Hembree, Rigging a Chevy into a Time Machine and Other Ways to Escape a Plague
* 2014 winner:  Bradford Tice, What the Night Numbered
* 2012 winner: Iris Jamahl Dunkle, Gold Passage

Tupelo Press, 1st or 2nd book contest, Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book
* 2015 winner: Patrick Coleman, Fire Season
* 2014 winner: Jenny Molberg, Marvels of the Invisible
* 2013 winner: Amy McCann, Yes Thorn

U of Pittsburgh Press, 1st book contest, Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize
* 2015 winner: Miriam Bird Greenberg, In the Volcano's Mouth
* 2014 winner: Nathan Marshall, Wild Hundreds
* 2013 winner: Sarah Rose Nordgren, Best Bones
* 2012 winner: Kasey Jueds, Keeper

U of Massachusetts Press, 1st book contest, Juniper Prize for Poetry; consideration of 1st-books occurs only during odd-numbered years (2013, 2015, 2017, etc.) for winners named in even-numbered years (2014, 2016, 2018, etc.)
* 2015 winner: n/a
* 2014 winner: David Kutz-Marks, Violin Playing Herself in a Mirror
* 2013 winner: n/a
* 2012 winner: Brandon Dean Lamson, Starship Tahiti

U of Notre Dame Institute for Latino Studies1st book contest, Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize; limited to Latino/a  poets in the United States, occurs every two years
* 2015 winner: n/a
* 2014 winner: David Campos, Furious Dusk
* 2013 winner: n/a
* 2012 winner: Laurie Ann Guerrero, A Tongue in the Mouth of the Dying

Unicorn Press1st book contest, First Book Contest
* 2015 winner: Stephen Lackaye, Self-Portrait in Dystopian Landscape
* 2014 winner: Hastings Hensel, Winter Inlet
* 2013 winner: Martin Arnold, Earthquake Owner's Manual

Waywiser Press, 1st or 2nd book contest, The Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize
* 2015 winner: Austin Allen, Pleasures of the Game
* 2014 winner: Jaimee HillsHow to Avoid Speaking
* 2013 winner: Geoffrey Brock, Voices Bright Flags
* 2012 winner: Shelley Puhak, Guinevere in Baltimore

Wick Poetry Center, 1st book contest, Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize
* 2015 winner: Leah Osowski, Hover Over Her
* 2014 winner: Matthew Minicucci, No Epithets
* 2013 winner: Oliver Bendorf, The Spectral Wilderness
* 2012 winner: Michael Mlekoday, The Dead Eat Everything

Yale University Press, 1st book contest, Yale Series of Younger Poets
* 2015 winner: Noah Warren, The Destroyer in the Grass
* 2014 winner: Ansel ElkinsBlue Yodel
* 2013 winner: Eryn Green, Eruv
* 2012 winner: Will Schutt, Westerly

Zone 3 Press,  1st book contest, First Book Award; contest appears to be offered every other year in even years (2012, 2014, etc.)
* 2015 winner: n/a
* 2014 winner: Ashley Seitz Kramer, Museum of Distance
* 2013 winner: n/a
* 2012 winner: Karen Skolfield, Frost in the low area

If you want a list with more information than what is provided above, check out one of these fine resources:

    • a list of presses with open readings for full-length poetry manuscripts at Linebreak, the blog of Tom Holmes (editor of Redactions)
    •  NewPages, a wonderful literary-journal and writing portal 
    • Duotrope,  an online service that provides, among other things, a database of almost every journal and an application that allows you to track your submissions. (Duotrope charges a fee. I subscribe to Duotrope and find it a bargain for the price.)


  1. I wish I had found a list like this back in late 2013 when I was looking for a place to send Bone Song. I ended up scouring Poets and Writers and The Writer's Chronicle--paper and web sites. Trying to keep up with everything was a nightmare. But it paid off :) Bone Song comes out in April. I guess what I'm saying is we need to send out work out there in order for good things to happen. Lists like yours remove one of the obstacles...or excuses! I know I had as many excuses as I had obstacles :)

    1. Yes, it is a bit daunting to keep track of things:) Congratulations on winning the Liam Rector First Book Prize for Poetry! I look forward to reading Bone Song.

  2. Still very useful in 2016, many of these links still good. Thanks for the effort put into compiling the list!


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