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 June 1, 2018$15.00
$15.00

You're in the submission form for poetry. If you're intending to submit fiction, please return to the main page and select the fiction category instead.

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or short fiction between 16-36 pages in length.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

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 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.
  • Hybrid/multi-genre submissions are also welcome; please enter under the submission category that best fits your work.
  • We cannot accept translations for the BRCC.

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 The Branches, The Axe, The Missing by Charlotte Pence; Purgatory by Amelia Martens; Radio Silence by Philip Schaefer and Jeff Whitney; In the Carnival of Breathing by Lisa Fay Coutley; and [ G A T E S ] by Sahar Muradi. The discounted price of $37.95 for this chap bundle includes the cost of shipping. Purchase not required for submission to the BRCC!

Ends on June 1, 2018$15.00
$15.00

You're in the submission form for fiction. If you're intending to submit poetry, please return to the main page and select the poetry category instead.

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.

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 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.
  • Hybrid/multi-genre submissions are also welcome; please enter under the submission category that best fits your work.
  • We cannot accept translations for the BRCC.

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 The Branches, The Axe, The Missing by Charlotte Pence; Purgatory by Amelia Martens; Radio Silence by Philip Schaefer and Jeff Whitney; In the Carnival of Breathing by Lisa Fay Coutley; and [ G A T E S ] by Sahar Muradi. The discounted price of $37.95 for this chap bundle includes the cost of shipping. Purchase not required for submission to the BRCC!

Ends on April 30, 2018$30.00 - 250.00
$30.00 - 250.00

During the month of April, Black Lawrence Press authors Charlotte Pence, Cynthia Manick, and Michele Battiste are on board to critique poetry manuscripts; and they are accepting everything from individual poems to full-length manuscripts. The fees and parameters for each of these categories is as follows:

  • Individual Poems, up to 2 pages in length, $10
  • Folios, up to 7 pages in length, not to include more than 5 poems, $30
  • Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $150
  • Full-length collections, 45-80 pages in length $250

All manuscripts should be formatted in 12-point font.

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

Space in this program is limited, so please be sure to submit your work soon! 

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Charlotte'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.

Ends on April 30, 2018$10.00 - 250.00
$10.00 - 250.00

During the month of April, Black Lawrence Press authors Charlotte Pence, Cynthia Manick, and Michele Battiste are on board to critique poetry manuscripts; and they are accepting everything from individual poems to full-length manuscripts. The fees and parameters for each of these categories is as follows:

  • Individual Poems, up to 2 pages in length, $10
  • Folios, up to 7 pages in length, not to include more than 5 poems, $30
  • Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $150
  • Full-length collections, 45-80 pages in length $250

All manuscripts should be formatted in 12-point font.

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

Space in this program is limited, so please be sure to submit your work soon!

----------

Cynthia's Statement of Purpose

When reading individual poems I look for the creative spark first. I’m most drawn to poems that inform the reader; the word or line that pulls me into the poem or represents a change in thinking. For me that’s the moment when the poem takes flight. I believe poems should introduce questions, issues, characters, and images; and poets should use all the tools in their toolbox. In the same vein, good poems can reflect conflict and celebrate joy; each represents parts of the human experience. I always think of the poet CD Wright saying “you have deer here, but give me venison” meaning don’t shy away from details that enrich the work. Every poet has a unique voice and I enjoy discovering that voice in the work.

When evaluating chapbooks and full length projects, I believe that strength not length makes a good book. Most projects have themes and obsessions. As a consultant I try to find the strengths and weaknesses of those themes and see where it succeeds. I also think it's great when poets go off theme and the reader learns something new. When reading connected work, I ask where do the various threads lead? Any new discoveries?  More importantly, do the poems speak to each other? I try to identify the poet's intention and work within those parameters. I believe most full-length projects represent a journey, so at the end of a book, the reader should be in a different head space. 

In my own work, I deal a lot with imagination and memory. I also like to “corrupt” modern day forms like warranty information, dictionary entries, and shopping lists. I greatly admire the conciseness and power of Lucille Clifton; the act of witnessing represented by Nikky Finney; the narrative threads of Natalie Diaz; list poems; poems that combine the fantastical and real; and poets that take risk with language and form. 

Ends on April 30, 2018$10.00 - 250.00
$10.00 - 250.00

During the month of April, Black Lawrence Press authors Charlotte Pence, Cynthia Manick, and Michele Battiste are on board to critique poetry manuscripts; and they are accepting everything from individual poems to full-length manuscripts. The fees and parameters for each of these categories is as follows:

  • Individual Poems, up to 2 pages in length, $10
  • Folios, up to 7 pages in length, not to include more than 5 poems, $30
  • Chapbooks, 16-40 pages in length, $150
  • Full-length collections, 45-80 pages in length $250

All manuscripts should be formatted in 12-point font.

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

Space in this program is limited, so please be sure to submit your work soon!

----------

Michele's Statement of Purpose

I am compelled by what poems say, but I’m intrigued and mystified by how they say it. I love poetry because of its alchemic properties, its ability to use common language to transform and to conjure, to make language transcend itself. And I am most transported by a poem that has abandoned its relationship with the writer to establish a relationship with its reader.

When working with other poets, my focus is less on what their poems say, more on the actions their poems take. My first responsibility when considering your work is understanding what it wants to achieve and honoring that. In other words, I’ll concentrate on the poem’s intentions (or what I perceive to be its intentions) and what it does to fulfill them. You and I may differ in what we think the poem’s purpose is, and the space between our differences is where we’ll work. That space is what makes the consultation interesting and worthwhile.

I’ll also explore what the poem accomplishes beyond its intentions or the potential directions the poem make be taking, possibly without your awareness. While I’ll do my best to put myself in your shoes as the writer of the poem, I am, first and foremost, the reader. And so I come to your work with – and make use of – dual experiences: analyzing what the poem is doing and my reaction to it.

In my own work, I like to play with documentation, narrative arc, the aural quality of language, and variations on a theme. I may push a sequence further than it should go, and I probably have more poems about “place” that one poet should. In other people’s poems, I enjoy language play, engagement with the external world, a clever volta, and an unapologetic voice that doesn’t claim universality. Poets I read and enjoy range from Gertrude Stein to Albert Goldbarth, and I spend most of my reading time with playful contemporary American poets, though I’m often most moved by poets working with gravid subject matter (Claudia Rankine, Julie Carr).

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.