Ends on

The 2024 Debut Chapbook Prize 

June 1, 2024, to September 1, 2024

At Frontier Poetry, our mission is to create a space for new and emerging poets to have their voice heard. One way we are aiming to uphold this mission is through our Debut Chapbook Contest. This contest is an opportunity for emerging poets to submit their unpublished chapbook or manuscript of up to thirty pages of poetry. We are excited to read through your wonderful contemplations, nuances, emotions, and truths. The way we see it, your poetry is like a puzzle and we look forward to seeing how you put the pieces together. All kinds of poetry are welcome; we set no formal or aesthetic requirements, and we invite manuscripts that still need polishing. Please follow the guidelines below. The contest is open from July 1, 2024, until September 1, 2024, and the winners will be announced sometime in late fall or early winter and published fall of 2025. 

The winner will receive $2,000 and publication, which includes a free, downloadable digital chapbook on our website, fifty physical author copies to share and sell, and the option to enable drop-shipping sales at Amazon, Bookshop.org, and Barnes & Noble, earning 50% royalties on your chapbook. Additionally, tens of thousands of readers, editors, and magazines will receive chapbook access through our newsletter. We aim for this award to be a springboard for your poetic career. 

Guest Judge Nancy Miller Gomez will select the winner this year from ten finalists curated by our editorial team. 

About Our Judge: 

Nancy Miller Gomez’s first full-length collection Inconsolable Objects is forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2024. She is the author of the chapbook, Punishment (Rattle Chapbook Series), a collection of poems and essays about her experience teaching in prisons and jails. Her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, Best New Poets, Prairie Schooner, The Adroit Journal, TriQuarterly, New Ohio Review, Shenandoah, River Styx, Waxwing, Plume, The Rumpus, Rattle, The Massachusetts Review, American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily, and elsewhere. She received a special mention in the 2023 Pushcart Prize Anthology. She co-founded, with Ellen Bass, an organization that provides writing workshops to incarcerated women and men and has taught poetry in Salinas Valley State Prison, the Santa Cruz County Jails, and the Juvenile Hall. She has a BA from the University of California, San Diego, received her JD from the University of San Diego, and obtained a Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from Pacific University. She lives with her family in Santa Cruz, California.

What Our Judge is Looking For: 

I love chapbooks that take me on a narrative, thematic, or emotional journey, but I also love a mixtape of poems that pulse and push off from one another in ways that create a rich experience for the reader. I love when poems, polished into little gems, bump against poems that are mouthy and wild. I love poems that sound good when read out loud; poems that are rhythmic and gut-punchy yet still stylistically elegant; poems that use language in unexpected and fresh ways; poems that pivot and turn and buck and circle, that misbehave and don’t care what anyone thinks. I love poems that refuse to get tied into bows, or that give me the finger on their way out the door. I love a poem that opens a window, a poem that changes how I see the world so after I’ve read it everything is different.
If there isn’t a theme, thread, or narrative arc, what is holding the poems together? Do they expand or complicate the meaning of the other poems in the collection? If they don’t get along, is their conflict effectively stage-managed or is it out of control, and to what effect? If you’ve let poems sneak past the velvet rope because they’re beautiful, will they contribute to the whole or just stand there and strike a pose? 
Most importantly, I love a collection that reveals emotional truths. I want to feel the poet behind the poems. I want a sense of a distinct self that has something urgent to say. I want the poems to feel so embodied that I come away feeling connected to another human. Because ultimately that is the work of a successful chapbook—to connect us, to make us feel seen and heard and less alone in this world.

Guidelines for Submission:

  • For this contest, we are specifically looking for poets with no prior chapbook, manuscript, or full-length collection of poetry published or forthcoming prior to this contest. 
  • Writers from historically marginalized groups are welcome to submit for a reduced fee until we reach our cap of fifty. No additional fee waivers will be granted.
  • The manuscript should be fifteen to thirty pages of poems, not including front and back matter.
  • The manuscript should be unpublished as a whole, although individual poems may be previously published.
  • Do not include any identifying information in the manuscript itself or in the file name.
  • Please put any acknowledgements in the cover letter field of Submittable and not in the manuscript.
  • Submissions are open internationally, to any poet writing in English. Inclusion of other languages, such as in code-switching/meshing, is welcome, as long as the poem is primarily in English.
  • Simultaneous submissions are welcome, but please notify us immediately if the chapbook is accepted elsewhere.
  • Multiple submissions are allowed, but each manuscript must be submitted separately with the $25 reading fee.
  • Work generated by AI will be automatically disqualified.
  • Winners and finalists will be announced late fall or early winter of 2024.

Editorial Feedback Option: 

Two options for feedback are available: Editorial Letter and Manuscript Consultation

  • For practical feedback on a single poem from the collection, choose Editorial Letter (one to two pages of developmental feedback on a single poem in the submitted collection).
  • For an in-depth editorial service on the manuscript as a whole, choose Manuscript Consultation (ten to fifteen pages of feedback plus a phone or email consultation).

Our guest editors are paid a significant portion of the fee  and are all astute, professional poets.

Testimonial for the Manuscript Consultation: “Meeting with a Frontier Poetry editor was well worth it. Poems need to be read out loud and to be heard by more than one person. And if that second listener is generous and curious and knows where to point to a better order and when a line needs torque or the junk pile, then there’s a chance for mere words, that mere air, to sound delicious.”

Frontier Poetry’s Chapbook Catalog: 

Our 2023 winner, Good Listener by Kathryn Hargett-Hsu, will be released on July 15, 2024, and you can read the winners of our previous chapbook contests here: 

Testimonial for the Chapbook Process: "Working with Frontier on my debut chapbook offered me invaluable insight into the publishing process that I will carry with me for the rest of my career. Michaela [Emerson] and Emelie [Mano] consulted me at every step of the process to ensure my active participation in the presentation of my work, from copy edits to cover selection, and I deeply appreciate their care and attention. They emphasized my artistic agency and allowed me great freedom for my debut. Special thank you to Emelie for her beautiful cover design! Their individual, personalized support has uplifted my writing and I treasure their ongoing support."  —Kathryn Hargett-Hsu

If you have any questions, please visit our FAQ page. If you don’t find the answer to your question, you can send an email to contact (at) frontierpoetry (dot) com.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.