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 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.
Ends on November 1, 2017$15.00
$15.00

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or short fiction between 16-36 pages in length.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 blind by our panel of editors. All manuscripts should include a title page (listing only the title of the work), table of contents, 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.

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 has been previously published as a 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. We cannot accept translations.

The annual deadlines for the prize are May 31 and October 31. Please enter poetry submissions here.

Ends on November 1, 2017$15.00
$15.00

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or short fiction 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 blind by our panel of editors. All manuscripts should include a title page (listing only the title of the work), table of contents, 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.

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 has been previously published as a 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. We cannot accept translations.

The annual deadlines for the prize are May 31 and October 31. Please enter fiction submissions here.

Ends on October 31, 2017$10.00 - 250.00
$10.00 - 250.00

During the month of October, Black Lawrence Press poets Claudia Cortese, Lisa Fay Coutley, and Charlotte Pence are on board to critique poetry. They are accepting individual poems, folios, chapbooks, and full-length collections. The fees and parameters for page lengths for each of these categories is as follows:

  • Individual poems, up to two pages in length, $10
  • Folios, up to 7 pages in length, not to include more than five poems, $30
  • Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $150
  • Full-length collections, 45-80 pages in length, $250

All manuscripts should be formatted in twelve point font. 

The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is October 31. The consultants will complete their work and respond to all participants by November 30.

Space in this program is limited, so please be sure to submit your work soon! (Note: if the category of your choice does not appear, it means the queue for that category is already full.)

Claudia Cortese's Statement of Purpose 

When reading your work,  I will point out where I see it most succeeding—where it pops and sings and electrifies the page—and where I see it most struggling—where it falls flat or turns dull. There are many literary traditions—from hip-hop to confessional poetry to fabulism, to name just a few—and though all artists have biases and aesthetic preferences, I will work hard to not get so mired in my own tastes that I cannot see beyond them. In other words, I will try to understand the traditions and aesthetics that inspire you, even if they are not my own aesthetics and traditions. I often get most excited by artists who write in ways I never could—succeed in ways I often fail.

I will offer both micro-level comments about diction, rhythm, lines, imagery, and so on, and macro-level comments about the issues and themes your poems constellate around. I love hybrid work and I myself write in many genres, so please feel free to submit even if your poems are not strictly, well, poems! The writers I draw the most inspiration from—Aaron Apps, Claudia Rankine, Jenny Boully, Adrienne Rich, Khadijah Queen, Natalie Eilbert, to name a few—write at the intersection of multiple genres. 

In addition to written comments on each piece and at the end of your manuscript, I will provide you with a link to a short video in which I discuss your work. 

I look forward to reading your poems!

Ends on October 31, 2017$10.00 - 150.00
$10.00 - 150.00

During the month of October, Black Lawrence Press poets Claudia Cortese, Lisa Fay Coutley, and Charlotte Pence are on board to critique poetry. They are accepting individual poems, folios, chapbooks, and full-length collections. The fees and parameters for page lengths for each of these categories is as follows:

  • Individual poems, up to two pages in length, $10
  • Folios, up to 7 pages in length, not to include more than five poems, $30
  • Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $150
  • Full-length collections, 45-80 pages in length, $250

All manuscripts should be formatted in twelve point font. 

The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is October 31. The consultants will complete their work and respond to all participants by November 30.

Space in this program is limited, so please be sure to submit your work soon! (Note: if the category of your choice does not appear, it means the queue for that category is already full.)

Lisa Fay Coutley's Statement of Purpose

In an ideal workshop, an editor would meet a poem/collection nowhere but on its own terms, though if we’re honest with ourselves we must admit that we each bring our own aesthetics and experiences into any reading and interpretation. My best readers are those who attempt not to mold my poems but to react with a thoughtful and well-articulated gut response, giving an exegesis of the language, lines, syntax, form and content, and the tensions and patterns therein. That is what I can promise you.

I will read and respond to individual poems one poem at a time, first by typing how I experience the poem upon an initial reading, and then I will compose a more careful critique with subsequent readings. I will respond to collections by making comments on individual poems throughout and at the end by typing how I experience the manuscript (noting its obsessions, form, style, technique, as well as its images, line breaks, sonic qualities, etc.). I will read your poems as individual entities while also noting commonalities in form and subject among the batch/collection. I will give a fair amount of feedback, but if you’d prefer that I give more pointed comments, I can do that as well.  

It’s not always the most trained reader who gives the best feedback but the one who learns to listen to the poems and sit with them a while. Outside eyes often notice obsessions we aren’t even aware of—themes and images we can’t seem to stop circling—and I will do my best to sit with your poems and listen to them—to understand their gestures and rhetoric, to find their sturdiest and softest spots, and to learn them on their own terms.

All of that I say as an editor. As a reader, my aesthetic calls me toward poems that are willing to make the best use of their form in order to enact their content. I am intrigued by lyrical, raw poems that demonstrate a willingness to observe subject matter without flinching. I am likely to nudge your poems in a direction in which they do their best to be their bravest yet most vulnerable selves.

I look forward to reading and responding to your words.

All Best,

Lisa Fay

Ends on October 31, 2017$10.00 - 250.00
$10.00 - 250.00

During the month of October, Black Lawrence Press poets Claudia Cortese, Lisa Fay Coutley, and Charlotte Pence are on board to critique poetry. They are accepting individual poems, folios, chapbooks, and full-length collections. The fees and parameters for page lengths for each of these categories is as follows:

  • Individual poems, up to two pages in length, $10
  • Folios, up to 7 pages in length, not to include more than five poems, $30
  • Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $150
  • Full-length collections, 45-80 pages in length, $250

All manuscripts should be formatted in twelve point font. 

The deadline to submit work for this consultation program is October 31. The consultants will complete their work and respond to all participants by November 30.

Space in this program is limited, so please be sure to submit your work soon! (Note: if the category of your choice does not appear, it means the queue for that category is already full.)

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.

Abstract

Poetry manuals, at their most essential, are aimed at demystifying aspects of poetry (especially for beginner poets) in order to make poets’ journeys easier and less daunting. Such manuals are also reminders that poetry itself is a discipline with a landscape and a history.

With this anthology, we aim to build on the long body of work in this tradition by bringing a number of established and emerging poets together in a single volume to welcome new and beginner poets to the art. Multiple voices, we believe, are essential to the poet’s journey.

Call for Submissions

Black Lawrence Press is now accepting submissions for a new anthology of essays.

Poets in the United States and abroad are encouraged to submit essays aimed at welcoming new and beginner poets to the discipline of poetry.

Contributors are encouraged to provide anecdotes and advice, instructions and suggestions, fun exercises and crazy ideas, or individual failures and encouraging words, in order to better prepare new poets for the long journey through poetry.

Essays should be between 700-5000 words on any of the following broad themes (other themes will be considered):

  1. First Words

  2. Poetry Workshop

  3. The Poet’s Journey

  4. Family & Work

  5. The Poet in the World

Essays can be creative or academic. However, they have to be accessible since they are also for a general audience.

Abayomi Animashaun will serve as editor. Please contact him at abayo.animashaun@gmail.com with questions.

Submissions will be accepted via Submittable. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2017.

About the Editor

Abayomi Animashaun is the author of two poetry collections, Sailing for Ithaca and The Giving of Pears, and editor of two anthologies, Walking the Tightrope: Poetry and Prose by LGBTQ Writers from Africa and Others Will Enter the Gates: Immigrant Poets on Poetry, Influences, and Writing in America. He teaches writing and literature at the University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh and lives in Green Bay, Wisconsin with his wife and two children. 

Note: Should contributors be interested in familiarizing themselves with Abayomi's work, we are offering his Black Lawrence Press titles at a discounted rate. The option to purchase one or more of his titles appears near the end of the submission form. Please note that these purchases are optional.

Please note: this category is open only to our current BLP authors (those with forthcoming or previously published 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.