2017 First Book Poetry Competition

Judge: suzanne buffam

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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 Suzanne Buffam.

Suzanne Buffam is the author of three collections of poetry, A Pillow Book (Canarium, 2016), The Irrationalist (Canarium, 2010), and Past Imperfect (House of Anansi, 2005). A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Jeannette Heian Ballard Writers’ Trust, and the Canada Council for the Arts, she currently serves as Visiting Assistant Professor of Poetry at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Born and raised in Canada, she lives in Chicago.


1. Manuscripts are eligible for the First Book Poetry Competition if the author has not published or committed to publish a collection of his or her 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 Suzanne Buffam 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 their work.

Guidelines & Notes

1. Make sure to record/update 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. 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 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 2017.

To Submit

1. Upload your manuscript as a .docx or .pdf to Submittable (mail submissions are no longer 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 book from our 2017 spring catalog (which will include these titles). Books will ship in April; please make sure that the address listed in your Submittable account is up to date.

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