Through our annual contests and open reading periods, we seek innovative, electrifying, and thoroughly intoxicating manuscripts that ensnare themselves in our hearts and minds and won’t let go.

During our June and November open reading periods, we accept submissions in the following categories: novel, novella, short story collection (full-length and chapbook), poetry (full-length and chapbook), biography & cultural studies, translation (from the German), and creative nonfiction.  We also enthusiastically accept hybrid submissions. 


We also hold several annual contests. Here is our reading schedule: 

The Big Moose Prize: December 1 – January 31
(Open competition, novels)

The Hudson Prize: February 1 – March 31
(Open competition, poetry and short story collections)

The Spring Black River Chapbook Competition: April 1 – May 31
(Open competition, poetry and fiction chaps)

Open Reading Period 1: June 1 – June 30

The St. Lawrence Book Award: July 1- August 31
(First book competition, poetry and short story collections)

The Fall Black River Chapbook Competition: September 1 – October 31
(Open competition, poetry and fiction chaps)

Open Reading Period 2: November 1 – November 30

(Please note that we occasionally offer early bird specials on our contests. These specials allow authors to submit their manuscripts ahead of time at a discounted rate.) 


Please submit your work to the appropriate category below. If you are submitting a hybrid manuscript, please select the submission category that best fits your work.

You're in the submission form for poetry. If you're intending to submit prose (fiction, creative non-fiction, etc.), please return to the main page and select the prose category instead. (Chapbooks of prose poems and poetry/prose hybrid projects can be submitted under either poetry or prose, per your preference.)

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or prose between 16-36 pages in length.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.

All entries are read without identifying information by our panel of 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), 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.

  The annual deadlines for the prize are May 31 and October 31.

Optional book bundle: Interested in reading a few of our chapbooks while we read yours? Below you will have the option to purchase a bundle of five of our chapbooks, which includes Atlas of the Body by Nicole Cuffy, Something Like the End by Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier, A Civic Pageant by Frank Montesonti, Acadiana by Nancy Reddy, and The Death Metal Pastorals by Ryan Patrick Smith. The discounted price of $37.95 for this chap bundle includes the cost of shipping. Purchase not required for submission to the BRCC!

You're in the submission form for prose. (This includes fiction, creative non-fiction, lyric essay, and prose hybrid manuscripts.) If you're intending to submit poetry, please return to the main page and select the poetry category instead. (Chapbooks of prose poems and poetry/prose hybrid projects can be submitted under either poetry or prose, per your preference.)

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.

All entries are read without identifying information by our panel of 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), 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.

The annual deadlines for the prize are May 31 and October 31.

Optional book bundle: Interested in reading a few of our chapbooks while we read yours? Below you will have the option to purchase a bundle of five of our chapbooks, which includes Atlas of the Body by Nicole Cuffy, Something Like the End by Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier, A Civic Pageant by Frank Montesonti, Acadiana by Nancy Reddy, and The Death Metal Pastorals by Ryan Patrick Smith.The discounted price of $37.95 for this chap bundle includes the cost of shipping. Purchase not required for submission to the BRCC!

During the month of May, Black Lawrence Press author Leigh Camacho Rourks is on board to critique fiction manuscripts. Leigh Camacho Rourks is a Cuban-American author who lives and works in Central Florida, where she is an Assistant Professor of English and Humanities at Beacon College. She is the recipient of the St. Lawrence Press Award, the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award, and the Robert Watson Literary Review Prize, and her work has been shortlisted for several other awards. Her fiction, poems, and essays have appeared in a number of journals, including Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, RHINO, TriQuarterly, December Magazine, and Greensboro Review.

Leigh is accepting everything from flash fiction to novels for critique. The fees and parameters for each of these categories are as follows:

  •    Flash fiction, up to 2 pages in length, $25
  •    Short stories, up to 20 pages in length, $50
  •    Chapbooks, up to 40 pages in length, $195
  •    Novellas, up to 100 pages in length, $325
  •    Short story collections, up to 180 pages in length, $450
  •    Novels, up to 300 pages in length, $700

All manuscripts should be double spaced and formatted in 12-point font. The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is May 31. Leigh will complete her work and respond to all participants by  June 30.

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Leigh's Statement of Purpose

One of the most exciting things about storytelling is that it is not a one-size-fits all discipline. The cornerstones of narrative—character, place, plot, language—are shaped not simply by perfecting rules, but by exploration, by finding and pushing boundaries or playing within in them or even shattering them. It is the story’s voice that helps readers understand the shape of a narrative, that guides readers into a story that can and might do anything at all. It is the voice of a story that keeps them there. So as a a reader, I approach a manuscript as openly as I can, and I let it teach me where it wants to go and (perhaps more importantly) where it could go. And while there is no element of narrative that I take preference over, I do believe that looking closely at the voice of a manuscript will better guide its revision, so that is where I begin both my own exploration of the manuscript and my discussions with the author.

Once we have a better idea of how the narrative voice is functioning, we can use that as a lens through which to examine the other elements that make up the story, for they are all interconnected. For example, the voice is the lens through which readers see characters, and characters are both products of place and makers of it. Revision of a narrative, then, must take into account these interactions, it is rarely an act of brute force overhaul. Instead, I am a fan of looking at revision as a two-step process, first we see where the path we have laid out best travels, and then we fine-tune it to get it there. A good example of this method is to consider imagery—is there an image or set of imagery that is serving the story and its characters well? If so how best can we amplify it, make it resonate? 

I love stories that surprise me, but I am also amazed by the quiet stories that may not shatter my expectations, but instead just color them slightly. In other words, I like all kinds of stories, all genres, all voices. It is the diversity of narratives that I truly love. So, my goal is to help you find and fulfill the potentials of your unique story, instead of simply remaking it to fit my expectations. I am happy to read both realism and genre fiction (and all the possibilities in between).

During the month of May, Black Lawrence Press author Jenny Drai is on board to critique mixed genre and hybrid manuscripts. Jenny is the author of three collections of poetry, two poetry chapbooks, and an award-winning novella. Her prose and poetry have been published or are forthcoming in numerous print and online journals including Alaska Quarterly Review, American Letters and Commentary, Banango Street, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, OmniVerse, and Pleiades.

Jenny is accepting everything from short 2-page pieces of work to full-length manuscripts. The fees and parameters for each of these categories is as follows:

• Short pieces, up to 2 pages in length, $25

• Medium piece, up to 10 pages in length, $40

• Long pieces, up to 20 pages in length, $50

• Extended pieces/chapbooks, up to 40 pages in length, $195

• Short manuscripts, up to 90 pages in length, $325

• Long manuscripts, up to 200 pages in length, $500

All manuscripts should be double-spaced and formatted in 12-point font. 

The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is May 31. Jenny will complete her work and respond to all participants by June 30.

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Jenny Drai's Statement of Purpose

  

Reading transports me. The truest thing I can say about myself is that I am most alive when I read. Often I feel as if opening a book’s cover is like stepping over a threshold into another world. As an editor, I respect that writing is almost always at least partly a world-building exercise. Thus, as I make suggestions for revision, I respect the world the writer is building and concentrate my focus on helping fully flesh out the parameters of that world. 

When reading hybrid or multi-genre manuscripts, I bring my background as a poet, essayist, fiction writer, and someone who has lived and written in the spaces in between to my editing process. Story (regardless of genre), a focus on language, imagery, and form, a sense of urgency, and a sense of the thinking, feeling the human behind the words on the page are all things I look for and edit with a mind toward strengthening. 

In terms of my aesthetic when it comes to hybrid work, some of my favorite texts include the verse novels of Max Porter, Joy McCullough, and Bernardine Evaristo, essayistic poetry collections from Lillian-Yvonne Bertram and Syd Staiti, and work by Anne Carson, Sun Yung Shin, Maggie Nelson and Lily Hoang. Other writers I love include Siri Hustvedt, David Mitchell, Helen Oyeyemi, Pattie McCarthy, Franny Choi, Marina Warner, Duriel E. Harris, Haruki Murakami, Kazuo Ishiguro, Margaret Atwood, Zadie Smith, Lisa Fishman, Muriel Leung, Harryette Mullen, Li-Young Lee, jos charles, Hilary Mantel, and Toni Morrison. I also have a soft spot for writing that connects to fairy tales or mythology from any and all cultural traditions or that combines scholarship with creative writing. 

Please submit your manuscript as a MS Word document if possible, and, in the case of longer manuscripts, tell me a little bit about your project in your cover letter.

During the month of May, Black Lawrence Press author Charlotte Pence is on board to critique poetry manuscripts. Charlotte’s poetry merges the personal with the scientific. Her first book, Many Small Fires (Black Lawrence Press, 2015), received a Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award. The book explores her father’s chronic homelessness while simultaneously detailing the physiological changes that enabled humans to form cities, communities, and households. Director of the Stokes Center for Creative Writing, she is also the author of two award-winning poetry chapbooks and the editor of The Poetics of American Song Lyrics (University Press of Mississippi, 2012). Pence is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Redden Fund, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Alvin H. Nielson Memorial Fund, the Discovered Voices Award, New Millennium Writing Award, and many others. Her new book, Code, is due out in July. 

Charlotte is accepting single poems, folios, chapbooks, and full-length collections for critique. The fees and parameters for each of these categories are as follows:

  • Individual Poems, up to 2 pages in length, $20
  • Folios, up to 7 pages in length, not to include more than 5 poems, $50
  • Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $195
  • Full-length collections, 45-80 pages in length $325

All manuscripts should be formatted in 12-point font.The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is May 31. Charlotte will complete her work and respond to all participants by June 30.

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Charlotte Pence's Statement of Purpose


“A poem is an event, not the record of an event.” --Robert Lowell

The above statement underscores my continual amazement at what a poem can build with black font on white paper—an experience for a reader rather than a paraphrasable point. A poem is not merely intellectual; rather, the experience of a good poem is physical, transportive, and hopefully transformative. But to have that experience, to be moved along with the poet, we need to know where we stand. Identifying the dramatic situation, exploring the conflict (however quiet it may be), and reveling in the vividness of language all help to transfer the writer’s experience to the reader.

Yet, building a poem is not the same as building a book. When I wrote my previous poetry books, (two chapbooks and one full-length), I thought of the book itself as a player in the poetic drama. The frame of the book itself extends the workable canvas. I see a book as something more akin to what Anne Carson created in Nox, in which the text was printed on a forty-foot long page folded like an accordion. While one does not need to literally connect all the pages, there is a liberation that comes from viewing a manuscript as an interconnected being, an ecosystem in which roots, fungus, rain, worms, and so on are all acting out the great majesties of their individual—and interconnected—lives. I’ll look at your manuscript not simply as a collection of individual poems, but as an ecosystem. I’ll help to draw out the motifs, linguistic play, forms, etc. in an effort to present a singular object that utilizes the powerful frame the book provides.

Given my own interest in the interconnectivities between disciplines, I consider our own deep human history—harkening back to our love of sound repetitions, keen ability to decipher patterns (i.e. navigation by constellation), and the fact that our species is unique in its need to command a group’s attention. This last is a question poets too often ignore—how to gain the reader’s attention and then succeed in sustaining that attention. As your reader, I’ll note moments when I could predict what comes next, when the language feels recycled rather than revelatory, when moments, personas, and worlds feel too pat and thin. Equally important, I’ll be sure to note when the language, form, or imagery delivers something wholly unexpected and pleasing. These moments of strengths are ones that will serve as the guiding point when I make suggestions for the poem or the manuscript as a whole. Drawing out the wonderful idiosyncrasies unique to your voice and vision then exploring them more deeply is a key component to revising an inspired manuscript into a successful book.

In my own work, I like to uncover and analyze relationships between seemingly dissimilar subjects. My poetry collection Many Small Fires, for example, combines the subject of homelessness with theories of anthropological evolution, specifically the anatomical changes that enabled communal living within our species. My current manuscript in progress plays with DNA and code. Bringing in differing subjects, texts, and voices all add contrasting pressures. Poets I read and enjoy change based upon what I am working on, and thus, I enjoy a wide range, though James Wright, Anne Carson, Tracy K. Smith, Aracelis Girmay, Bradford Tice, Jericho Brown, Lucille Clifton, Robert Hass, César Vallejo, and C.D. Wright are all poets I tend to turn to time and time again.

Please note: this category is open only to our current BLP authors (those with forthcoming or previously published chapbooks or full-length titles). Submissions entered via this category from writers who are not currently published by BLP will not be considered. If you are not a current BLP author, please exit out of this category and submit through the relevant open category or contest. Our full reading schedule appears on our Submittable page. Thank you!


Current BLP authors: We're so happy that you'd like us to consider another manuscript from you. Please submit it here.

Black Lawrence Press