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 prose 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 prose 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.

During the month of October, Black Lawrence Press author David Rigsbee is on board to critique poetry manuscripts. David, the author of 21 books and chapbooks, has been recipient of two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has appeared in AGNI, The American Poetry Review, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, The Ohio Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Sewanee Review, The Southern Review, and many others.

David is accepting single poems, folios, chapbooks, and full-length collections for critique. The fees and parameters for each of these categories is 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 October 31. David will complete his work and respond to all participants by November 30.

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David Rigsbee's Statement of Purpose

Poems begin in subjectivity, in what Yeats memorably called “the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.” But they can’t remain there and be poems. Because their origin is in the poet’s particular experience—imaginative, emotional, expressive—they have to be transformed into speech acts, or better still, into song. The transformation can be daunting. This is where the poet’s work comes in, and I believe that work benefits considerably from collaborative thinking that involves ways to use and enhance poetic intelligence, from word-choice and image, to acoustic and metrical composition, to architectural development and closure. I also believe the specific skills to accomplish that work can be passed on from poet to poet.

In my consultations, I try to help poets identify and take advantage of the opportunities—rhetorical, stylistic, musical, metaphorical—inherent in early drafts. I like to encourage thinking about poems as rhetorical performances intended to invite readers into the suggestive spaces a poem provides. At the same time I’m interested in understanding the difference between poems that work toward a resonant simplicity and those that, in Linda Gregg’s phrase, “tap-dance” and so often skirt the deeper commitments good work requires.

I want to make sure that structure and detail are crafted, sturdy, precise, and aesthetically compelling. Russell Edson once said that “of all the things that could have happened, this is the very thing that happens.” An unfinished poem can go in many directions, but in the end it only goes in one—one that turns both inwardlly, acknowledging its origins (the rag-and-bones) and outwardly, as it hooks up with the larger world. Contemporary poets whose work I follow, read, and reread include Gerald Stern, Jorie Graham, Terrance Hayes, Robert Pinsky, and Robert Hass, to name just a few.

During the month of October, Black Lawrence Press author Shena McAuliffe is on board to critique fiction manuscripts.

Shena's novel, The Good Echo, won the Big Moose Prize and the 2019 Balcones Fiction Prize. Her short stories have been published in Conjunctions, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. She is an Assistant Professor of Fiction at Union College, and is on the faculty of the Cornell College Low-Residency MFA program in Creative Writing. She earned her Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Utah, and an M.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. 

Shena is accepting everything from flash fiction to full-length novels. 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 October 31. Shena will complete her work and respond to all participants by November 30.

___________

Shena's Statement of Purpose:

There is no thrill quite like reading the first paragraphs of a truly delicious story: that fresh sense of wonder as one is seduced by a new voice and vivid images, the music of the words that promise more delights to come. I like my narrators with a keen sense of humor, compelling questions, or unique observations. I’m always looking for complex characters. And the shorter a story is, the more inventive the form must be, the more perfect the sentences.

I am, of course, only one reader, but I will read your prose with curiosity and openness, noting places where my attention is rapt, where your language is at its most lyrical or unique, where your story is at its most inventive or compelling. I’ll also identify places where my attention flags, and I’ll consider the choices you’ve made as a writer and how you might push them even further. I will occasionally propose other possible directions. I’ll respond to your writing via in-line comments and a letter that addresses the bigger picture, reflecting back to you the questions and ideas that seem pressing, central to your work, or the most captivating to me. I’ll look for patterns and anomalies in your writing that might help you identify your own obsessions and hone your style.

Much of my own writing—whether fiction or nonfiction, long or short, historical or contemporary—is sparked by research, which I define broadly. To help me write more convincing, compelling narratives, I read, listen, watch, visit archives, collect photographs, make things with my hands, take field trips, daydream, and make extensive notes. As I read your work, I’ll look for opportunities for deeper exploration and places that could benefit from research or expansion. I’ll also celebrate that which you’ve already included, and I’ll read with attention to how well you’ve integrated your research, knowledge, and imagination.

I am compelled by the many forms and voices that stories can take. I am an omnivorous reader, but I want to be surprised by how a writer tells a story. I love novels-in-stories, like Joan Silber’s Improvement or Evan Connell’s Mrs. Bridge, and those that accumulate via vignettes or fragments, like Justin Torres’ We the Animals, Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red, or Steven Dunn’s Water & Power. I also admire the playful prose and digressive worlds of Salman Rushdie, the inventive short stories of Julia Elliott and George Saunders, and those cut gems, puzzles, and dreams we call flash fiction.

My central aim as a consultant is to help you see your own work more clearly and with new energy, and to encourage you in your work as a writer. I look forward to spending time with your words.

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. 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 Inconsiderate Madness by Helen Marie Casey, Nonfiction by Shane McCrae, Oh My Darling by Cate O’Toole, Notes on the End of the World by Meghan Privitello, and Far Enough: A Western in Fragments by Joe Wilkins. 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. 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 Inconsiderate Madness by Helen Marie Casey, Nonfiction by Shane McCrae, Oh My Darling by Cate O’Toole, Notes on the End of the World by Meghan Privitello, and Far Enough: A Western in Fragments by Joe Wilkins. The discounted price of $37.95 for this chap bundle includes the cost of shipping. Purchase not required for submission to the BRCC!

Sometimes the hardest part of writing is just getting started. If you’re struggling with writer’s block or creating time to write, you’re not alone. Even though as writers we want to write, there are often real obstacles to enjoying the process. Is your apartment covered in sticky notes for a book you’re not working on? Do you struggle with finding time to write or sticking to a schedule? Are you so afraid of rejection that you don’t send out your work? Confused about how to get published and the etiquette of the process? Craft concerns can also derail your best writing habits. Maybe you’re great at mapping out a plot but feel confused about how to develop your characters. Or you’re stuck midway through a project because you don’t know what happens next and it’s daunting to write into that void. Maybe you’ve finished your memoir, and you know it’s great, but you’re afraid to publish it because it’s about your family. Maybe you’re intimidated by other writers’ success.

Coaching can help. While a manuscript consultation addresses issues with your writing itself, coaching focuses on your writing process: the pragmatic and psychological obstacles to starting, finishing, and publishing your work. If you’d like to talk through your writing struggles with someone who understands, listens, and can offer constructive guidance, I’m excited to work with you. I’m fascinated by the creative process and I’ve struggled with all of these things (and more!) myself.  Let’s talk, map out your concerns, and find a path forward.

An initial coaching session is a two-part process.

Step one: You write a 1-2 page statement describing the issues you’d like to address during our session. This will help me prepare for our call and help you name what’s holding you back.

Step two: Our session will be an hour long, by Zoom or phone, whichever you prefer. We’ll discuss your primary concerns and map out pragmatic strategies for moving ahead.

Follow-up appointments are available in 30 or 60 minute blocks.


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Carol Guess is the author of twenty books of poetry and prose, including Doll Studies: Forensics and Tinderbox Lawn. A frequent collaborator, she writes across genres and illuminates historically marginalized material. In 2014 she was awarded the Philolexian Award for Distinguished Literary Achievement by Columbia University. She is Professor of English at Western Washington University and lives in Seattle.

The immigrant narrative is at the heart of the American experiment. However, despite the contributions of immigrants to the cultural, financial, scientific, and artistic makeup of the United States, there is no clear home for new immigrant writings in the United States. To remedy this, Black Lawrence Press proudly announces the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series, an innovative program designed to provide a home for new immigrant writings in the United States and fill a much needed gap in the American literary community. The Series will remain a self-standing body with complete autonomy within Black Lawrence Press, and its editorial and advisory boards will be composed of immigrant writers and/or authors whose works explore the immigrant experience.

Mission Statement:

The Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series aims to provide a clear and consistent home for new Immigrant Writings in the U.S. Book selections will be made by a four-member editorial board composed of writers in the U.S. who are either immigrants or whose works focus on the immigrant experience. Selections will be based on merit with the goal of publishing the best works by immigrants. Poets and authors, at any stage of their careers, who identify as immigrants are welcome to submit a book manuscript of poetry or prose or a hybrid text for consideration. Submissions are accepted year-round. However, selections are made in June and November for a total of two books per year. In addition to publication, marketing, and a standard royalties contract from Black Lawrence Press, authors chosen for the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series will receive a travel stipend of $500, which can be used for book tours or in any manner chosen by the authors.

Editorial Board:
Sun Yung Shin
Rigoberto Gonzalez
Ewa Chrusciel
Abayomi Animashaun

Advisory Board:
Barbara Jane Reyes
Ilya Kaminsky
Omofolabo Ajayi-Soyinka
Virgil Suarez

Rules & Eligibility

1. Works by immigrants will be considered for the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series. 


2. Submission is open to any individual living in the U.S. who identifies as an immigrant and who either (i) was born in another country, (ii) has at least one parent who was born in another country (iii) is a refugee, or (iv) lives in the United States under Asylum or a Protection Program, such as TPS or DACA .

3. No more than two book manuscripts can be submitted per year per author.

4. A third book manuscript submitted in a given year by an author will not be considered for the Writing Series.

5. All manuscripts received after May 31st will be considered for the November Reading Period.

6. All manuscripts received after October 31st  will be considered for the June Reading Period.

7. Only books of poetry, prose (fiction or nonfiction), and hybrid texts of poetry and prose will be considered for the Writing Series.

8. An author whose book manuscript has previously been selected for the Writing Series and published through Black Lawrence Press will not be considered a second time for the Series. However, the author in question is welcome to send new book manuscripts to Black Lawrence Press (BLP) for consideration during BLP’s June and November Open Reading Periods.

9. Only authors who have not previously published with Black Lawrence Press will be considered for the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series.

10. Aside from Rules 1 through 9, there are no conditions for submitting manuscripts.

11. There are no entry fees.

12. Submissions are accepted year-round.

*13. Only one book manuscript will be selected for the June Reading Period, and only one book manuscript will be selected for the November Reading Period, for a total of two books per year. (* If no book manuscript is chosen for a June Reading Period, the Series Editors reserve the right to choose two book manuscripts (instead of one) in the November Reading Period immediately following the June Reading Period in question)

14. The Series Editors reserve the right to choose no book manuscript for the Writing Series during any given year or any Reading Period.


Frequently Asked Questions

1. How do you define an immigrant?
Anyone who identifies as an immigrant and who either (i) was born in another country, (ii) has at least one parent who was born in another country, (iii) is a refugee, or (iv) lives in the United States under Asylum or a Protection Program, such as TPS or DACA

2.  I live outside the United States, can I submit my work?
No, immigrant authors must be living in the United States when they submit their work for consideration

3. Can I submit an anthology for consideration?
No, anthologies will not be considered for the Writing Series. However, Black Lawrence Press (BLP) welcomes proposals for anthologies during its June and November Open Reading Periods

4. Are collaborations welcome?
No, works should be by one author only. However, collaborations are welcome during BLP’s June and November Open Reading Periods

5. Are BLP’s June & November Open Reading Periods the same as those of the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series?
No, these are different and distinct programs within the Press. While the readings occur concurrently, The Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series is a self-standing entity with its own eligibility and rules and editorial and advisory boards. The editorial board, composed of immigrant authors, has complete autonomy in selecting book manuscripts for the Writing Series. Each year, these editors recommend up to two books for publication through Black Lawrence Press. Please see the program’s mission statement , rules and eligibility, and bylaws.

6. How many book manuscripts can I submit in a given year?
Only two book manuscripts will be considered each year per author

7. Can I submit two book manuscripts in different genres?
No, each author can submit no more than two manuscripts in a given year, regardless of genre

8. I am an immigrant and I have two book manuscripts, can I submit both at once or at different times of the year?
Yes. Each author is welcome to submit a maximum of two books per year either together or at different times in the given year

9. It’s the end of June or November and there’s been no announcement yet on the manuscript selected for the Writing Series. What’s going on?
Thanks for your patience. The four-member editorial board will announce the selected manuscript as soon as they’ve made a decision. That said, the editors also reserve the right to choose no manuscript during a reading period.

10. I have other questions not addressed here. Who should I contact with my questions?
Please send questions to immigrantwritingseries@blacklawrencepress.com. 

You may send an email to the same address to request a copy of the Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series bylaws.

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