2019 First Book Poetry Competition

Judge: Brenda Hillman

January 1, 2019 – April 5, 2019

The Cleveland State University Poetry Center welcomes submissions for our First Book Poetry Competition; the winner will receive $1,000, publication, and a standard royalty contract. This year’s contest will be judged by Brenda Hillman.

Brenda Hillman is the author of ten collections from Wesleyan University Press, most recently Extra Hidden Life, among the Days (2018), Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire (2013), and Practical Water (2011). Her collection Bright Existence (1993) was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She has co-edited volumes by Richard O. Moore and has recently co-translated At Your Feet, the poems of Ana Cristina Cesar (Free Verse Editions, 2018). She lives in the Bay Area and is Olivia Filippi Professor of Poetry at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, California.


1. Manuscripts are eligible for the First Book Poetry Competition if the author has not published or committed to publish a collection of their poetry in a book of 48 pages or more with a press run of at least 500 copies. Translations are not eligible.

2. Intimate friends, relatives, or current and former students of Brenda Hillman are not eligible to submit. Faculty, staff, students, and alumni of Cleveland State University or the Northeast Ohio MFA Program (NEOMFA) are not eligible to submit.

Guidelines & Notes

1. Make sure to record your most current information (name, manuscript title, address, phone number, and email address) in your Submittable account; this is the information we will use to contact you. Manuscripts should be 48 pages minimum, 150 pages maximum. No other cover page or biographical information should be included in your submission and your name should not appear elsewhere in the manuscript. You may include an acknowledgments page that lists previously published poems.

2. Multiple submissions are welcome and simultaneous submissions are acceptable (please inform us immediately if the manuscript is accepted elsewhere).

3. The CSU Poetry Center reserves the right to consider all entrants for publication; a list of winners and finalists will be posted on the Poetry Center website in late summer/early fall of 2019.

To Submit

1. Upload your manuscript as a .docx or .pdf to Submittable (mail submissions are not eligible).

2. There is a $28 reading fee, which must be paid through Submittable. As a token of our appreciation for your readership and support of innovative literary publishing we will mail each writer a recent book from our catalog. Please make sure that the address listed in your Submittable account is up to date.

3. Email poetrycenter@csuohio.edu with any further questions.