2017 Open Book Poetry Competition

Judges: rebecca gayle Howell, lo kwa mei-en, & lee upton

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The Cleveland State University Poetry Center welcomes submissions for our Open Book Poetry Competition; the winner will receive $1,000, publication, and a standard royalty contract. This year’s contest will be judged by a panel of previous CSU authors: Rebecca Gayle Howell, Lo Kwa Mei-en, & Lee Upton.

Rebecca Gayle Howell's forthcoming book, American Purgatory, selected by Don Share for The Sexton Prize, will be released by London's Eyewear Publishing in early 2017. Howell is also the author of Render / An Apocalypse and the translator of Amal al-Jubouri's Hagar Before the Occupation/Hagar After the Occupation, both of which received wide critical acclaim. Native to Kentucky, Howell is a Senior Editor for the Oxford American.

Lo Kwa Mei-en is the author of Yearling (Alice James Books) and The Bees Make Money in the Lion (Cleveland State University Poetry Center) as well as two chapbooks: The Romances from The Lettered Streets Press and Two Tales from Bloom Books. She is a Kundiman fellow from Singapore and Ohio, where she now lives and works in Cincinnati.

Lee Upton’s sixth book of poetry, Bottle the Bottles the Bottles the Bottles, winner of the Open Book Poetry Competition, was published by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center in 2015. Her poetry has appeared widely, including in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Poetry, The Awl, and in three editions of Best American Poetry. Her short story collection The Tao of Humiliation was judged to be one of the “Best Books of 2014” by Kirkus Reviews. A second story collection, Visitations, is forthcoming in Fall 2107 in the Yellow Shoe Fiction Series.



1. Manuscripts are eligible for the Open Book Poetry Competition if the author has published at least one full-length collection of original poetry in English (of 48 pages or more with a press run of at least 500 copies). ** This competition is not open to first books. ** Translations are not eligible.

2. Intimate friends, relatives, or current and former students of the panel of the judges 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.