Annual Poetry Chapbook Contest

Since 2011 Encircle Publications has offered an annual chapbook contest. The winner each year now receives $250, 25 perfect-bound copies of the winning chapbook(with discount on additional copies), royalties on copies sold, discounted promotional materials (bookmarkers/postcards) and marketing assistance. Our authors hail from all over the U.S. and our chaps have gone on to win additional awards.

Entries received now through 9/1 will be considered for this calendar year’s Contest. *Guidelines must be followed precisely*. $20 entry fee is non-refundable. Entry fee must be paid through Submittable no later than September 1 each year; entry fees received after September 1 will automatically roll over to the following year’s contest. Your e-mail address must be entered at time of payment.

Specific Manuscript Guidelines:

1) Be sure to fill out name, mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number (in case we have questions) fields. Fill out the cover letter field and state that the poetry you are submitting is your original work, that you currently hold rights to it. If work in the manuscript is currently under review elsewhere (whether to individual journals or other contests) you must notify us if it’s accepted. Specifically, we will still consider the entire manuscript if individual poems are published elsewhere (while under our consideration) but request immediate notification of acceptance of the individual poem(s) so we can add it/them to the manuscript’s acknowledgements. If the entire manuscript is accepted elsewhere (while under our consideration) you must withdraw from our contest immediately. There is no refund for withdrawal.

2) Send manuscript in a single Word document attachment. On the Title Page, list contact information again (name, mailing address, e-mail address, and telephone number) in lower right-hand corner. Place the manuscript title in the middle of the page in larger, bold type. Throughout the manuscript, use Times New Roman (or a similar font) in 12-point size (excepting title). DO NOT LIST ANY CONTACT INFORMATION ON SUBSEQUENT PAGES WHATSOEVER (i.e. NOT IN A HEADER/FOOTER) AS IDENTIFYING MATERIAL WILL BE SEPARATED FROM MANUSCRIPTS DURING THE REVIEW PROCESS TO INSURE THAT JUDGING IS AS UNBIASED IS POSSIBLE. Please use Word’s option to number the document pages if possible. Encircle Publications editors’ decision regarding winning manuscript is final.

3) Include a Dedication Page (optional).

4) Include an Acknowledgements Page for any work that has been previously published (online or in print). Follow standard form for acknowledgements; list previous publications in alphabetical order by name of publication. Again, to keep judging as unbiased as possible, do not include in your manuscript any poems that have been previously published or submitted to the Aurorean or the Unrorean. (If your manuscript is declared the winner, the editors may request your permission to include such poems in the final manuscript if they are available for a reprint.) Hypothetical acknowledgements might read as follows: The author wishes to acknowledge the editors of the following publications in which these poems appeared, some in slightly different versions: LMNOP Quarterly: “Summer Solstice” XYZ Magazine: “Spring Fever” 123PoetryOnline: Poetry Walk.”

5) Include a Contents Page listing poem titles in order of appearance in manuscript.

6) Include 22–26 pages of poetry at 34 lines (including stanza breaks) maximum per page. (Poems can be longer or shorter than 34 lines, but only use 34 lines maximum per page out of 26 pages total; in other words, a poem may run on to a second or third page if necessary. For wide/prose poems, maximum character width is 75. Double-check any epigraphs, quotations, dates or real place names for accuracy.


Poetry may be theme-related. We have no specifications for subject matter; we will be looking for finely-crafted poetry that speaks to a broad audience. We will also look for a cohesive collection. Keep “sections” to a minimum if you must break your manuscript into sections. Nothing hateful, vulgar. No love poetry or dogma. Our tastes lean toward non-rhyming free verse, but we appreciate finely-written poetry in traditional forms.


Winner will be notified by e-mail early October each year. Information on winning chapbook and ordering information will be available on our website in early November each year. Upon publication (mid-December), winner will receive $250, 25 copies and marketing assistance. As well, 10% royalties on retail price will be paid (biannually beginning in June of the year following publication) to winner from any sold by Encircle Publications.

In addition, author may purchase additional copies at 50% off retail price (plus shipping) while under contract with Encircle Publications. Encircle Publications, LLC will provide the author with a pdf sell sheet for use in e-mail or for printing and bookmakers). Additional materials author wishes (additional bookmarkers, postcards, posters, etc.) will be available to author to purchase at a reasonable price. Winner will be asked to provide us with a list of at least 50 names and e-mail addresses to so that we may send the pdf sell sheet by e-mail to people who are likely to order the winning chapbook.

Encircle Publications, LLC is solely responsible for design/production/setting retail price of chapbook. Chapbooks will be professionally printed and winner will be asked to sign a five-year exclusive contract stating terms.

By submitting to Encircle Publications you agree to opt-in to our email list. (We do not share this information and you can opt-out at any time.)

Previous Winners

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2015 Winner. Missing Persons, by John Surowiecki

'The missing persons of John Surowiecki will not settle quietly into anonymity. He elevates lost or forgotten souls out of absence and makes their presence felt, starkly and simply through his exact and moving imagery. These poems are taut and elegiac—heartbreaking, but never despairing. By resurrecting memories through these poignant portraits, Surowiecki offers “the company of words,” as he helps us “understand how the earth absorbs” our loss.' —Amy Nawrocki, author of Reconnaissance and Four Blue Eggs

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2011 Winner. Nectar, by Lisa Bellamy

'The question that begins Lisa Bellamy’s elegant and eloquent collection of poems is a poignant one: are we all ‘just wind and gristle’? … This skilled pet goes on to assure us that we are not … Sadness is everywhere … but like the bees ‘mixing nectar with tears’ to produce honey—so is joy.' —Eleanor Lerman, author of The Sensual World Re-Emerges (Sarabande Books); Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize and NEA Poetry Prize Fellowship recipient

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Rumor of Hope by Laurel Mills
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2012 Winner. Rumor of Hope, by Laurel Mills

This collection of poems is brave and poignant. Written from the perspective of a mother whose daughter has the the rare genetic condition 1p36 Deletion Syndrome, the poetic voice speaks to any nurturer, any parent, any caring soul. The reader is brought to the edge of metaphoric cliffs of chaos, love—and hope.

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In the Museum of Surrender
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2013 Winner. In the Museum of Surrender, by Jeri Theriault

'As we move through the museum of surrender—the rooms of loss, of grief, the poet gives us resilience, joy, and roots reaching “deep/into the dark”. . . and we want to be there when she sings her songs of strength and beauty, songs of life, songs for the living.' —Gary Lawless, co-owner, Gulf of Maine Books; author of Caribouddhism and In Ruins

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Where the Meadowlark Sings
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2014 Winner. Where the Meadowlark Sings, by Ellaraine Lockie

'Visit the abandoned schoolhouse out on this vast Montana prairie, and you’re in for an elemental—if not elementary—education in beauty and danger. When modern life wears thin, Ellaraine Lockie’s roots run back to Indian times, and bring forth a wild profusion of prairie flowers.' —Dan Veach, Editor of Atlanta Review; recipient of the Georgia Author of the Year Award for his poetry collection, Elephant Water.

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Open Chapbook Submissions

Encircle Publications now offers two biannual reading periods each for other chapbook manuscript submissions. Submissions open from January–April and July–October for two publications per year. When submissions are open you can find details and guidelines via our Submittable page.