Black Lawrence Press

The Black River Chapbook Competition

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or prose between 16-36 pages in length. The contest is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner will receive book publication, a $500 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes are awarded on publication.

Past winners:

2005: Helen Marie Casey
2006: D. E. Fredd
Spring 2007: Frank Montesonti
Fall 2007: Sandra Kolankiewicz
Spring 2008: T.J. Beitelman
Fall 2008: Tina Egnoski
Spring 2009: David Rigsbee
Fall 2009: Lisa Fay Coutley
Spring 2010: Charlotte Pence
Fall 2010: Amelia Martens
Spring 2011: Russel Swensen
Fall 2011: Nick McRae
Spring 2012: Shane McCrae
Fall 2012: Simone Muench
Spring 2013: Blake Kimzey
Fall 2013: Caleb Curtiss
Spring 2014: Sam Sax
Fall 2014: Philip Schaefer and Jeff Whitney
Spring 2015: Meghan Privitello
Fall 2015: Ruth Baumann
Spring 2016: Jacqueline Doyle
Fall 2016: Nancy Reddy
Spring 2017: Amy Sayre Baptista
Fall 2017: Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier
Spring 2018: Alan Chazaro
Fall 2018: Christopher Locke
Spring 2019: Veronica Montes

Spring Entry Period: April 1 – May 31
Fall Entry Period: September 1 – October 31

Our chapbooks are perfect-bound, feature striking cover designs, each receive an ISBN, and are distributed nationally through Small Press Distribution, as well as on our website and at We treat our chapbooks just like our full-length titles in terms of aesthetics, production, publicity, and editorial love and care.

Beginning with the Spring 2014 contest, the Black River Chapbook Competition is judged by a revolving panel of judges, in addition to the Chapbook Editor and other members of the BLP editorial staff. The judging panel is comprised of Black Lawrence chapbook authors including:

Ruth Baumann (author of Retribution Binary)
Mary Biddinger (author of Saint Monica)
Alan Chazaro (author of This Is Not a Frank Ocean Cover Album)
Lisa Fay Coutley (author of In the Carnival of Breathing)
Nicole Cuffy (author of Atlas of the Body)
Jenny Drai (author of The New Sorrow is Less Than the Old Sorrow)
Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier (author of Something Like the End)
Kamden Hilliard (author of Perceived Distance from Impact)
Zefyr Lisowski (author of Blood Box)

Amelia Martens (author of Purgatory)
Nick McRae (author of Mountain Redemption)
Simone Muench (author of Trace)
Sahar Muradi (author of [ G A T E S ])
Jessica Piazza (author of This is not a sky)
Meghan Privitello (author of Notes on the End of the World)
Matthew Raymond (author of The Muddy Season)

Nancy Reddy (author of Acadiana)
Ryan Patrick Smith (author of The Death Metal Pastorals)
Cate Stevens-Davis (author of Oh My Darling)
Russel Swensen (author of Santa Ana)
Jeff Whitney (author of Radio Silence)

Previous Years’ Judges:

Brittany Cavallaro (co-author of No Girls No Telephones)
Caleb Curtiss (author of A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us)
Rebecca Hazelton (co-author of No Girls No Telephones)
Charlotte Pence (author of The Branches, the Axe, the Missing)
Sam Sax (author of sad boy / detective)
Philip Schaefer (author of Radio Silence)

How To Submit

Black Lawrence Press accepts submissions and payment of the entry fee ($15) exclusively through our online submission manager, Submittable. We are not able to accept submissions via email or postal mail.

All entries are read blind by our panel of judges and editors. All manuscripts should include a title page (listing only the title of the work), table of contents (if applicable), and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Manuscripts should be 16-36 pages in length (double-spaced for fiction and creative non-fiction), not including front and back matter (table of contents, title page, etc.). Identifying information for the author should not be included anywhere on the manuscript itself, including in the name of your file or in the “title” field in Submittable. You are welcome to include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable, which will only be made accessible to the editorial panel after the group of Semi-Finalist and Finalist manuscripts has been chosen.

A note regarding previously published work: Chapbooks containing individual stories or poems that have been previously published online or in print are absolutely eligible for the BRCC–please simply note previously published work on an acknowledgments page. On the other hand, if your chapbook–or a significant portion of the work included in your chapbook–has been previously published as a book or chapbook-length collection (including publication with a press, self-publication, online/digital publication, and publication in a small, limited-edition print run), then the manuscript is not eligible for the BRCC.

  • Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • Multiple submissions (the submission of more than one manuscript to the contest) are permitted.
  • Collaborative collections are welcome.
  • Hybrid/multi-genre submissions are also welcome; please enter under the submission category that best fits your work.
  • Prose category: Beginning with the Spring 2019 contest, our category previously titled “fiction” has been re-categorized as “prose” to accommodate fiction, creative non-fiction, lyric essay, and prose hybrid manuscripts. (Chapbooks of prose poems and poetry/prose hybrid projects can be submitted under either poetry or prose, per your preference.)
  • We cannot accept translations for the BRCC.
  • We will consider submissions including visual art (i.e. interior illustrations or photographs), but please note we do not regularly publish chapbooks with interior art. The best way to submit a manuscript including artwork is to attach a text-only version to your entry on Submittable. Then follow the instructions on Submittable for sending along a supplementary PDF of the manuscript, including the art. Please do not include suggested cover artwork with your submission.

Contest results:

  • SPRING: Finalists and semi-finalists for the spring competition are announced around the end of August each year. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter.
  • FALL: Finalists and semi-finalists for the fall competition are announced around the end of January each year. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

Need help with our submissions manager?

We look forward to reading your work!

Call for Entries

Deadline October 31

Click here to submit!

Spring 2019 Winner

Veronica Montes

Spring 2019 Winner Veronica Montes

For The Sound of Her Voice (working title)