Jane Underwood Poetry Prize

About the Prize

The Jane Underwood Poetry Prize was established to celebrate and memorialize Jane Underwood, the founder and long-time director of The Writing Salon who passed away in 2016. Jane was a gifted poet who made The Writing Salon a prominent and respected creative writing school in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was well known for her generous spirit and her direct and encouraging teaching style. A posthumous collection of her poems, entitled When My Heart Goes Dark, I Turn the Porch Light On, was published in 2017. Open to all poets, the prize is awarded for a single poem. This year’s final judge is Sharan Strange.

2021

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Congratulations to the Winner!

The 2021 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize winner is Sydney Vogl for their poem “All the Bars Are Closing.”

Read the Poem

Finalists:

Aimee Herman
Gregory Thomas
Jeanne Wagner

The Prizewinner Will Receive

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An award of $500

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Publication of the winning poem at The Writing Salon’s website

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An invitation to do a featured reading at The Writing Salon

Contest Guidelines

  • The contest is open to all poets.
  • The entry fee is $15. This fee is non-refundable.
  • Contestants may submit one entry of up to 3 poems. Poems must be sent in a single file.
  • Each of the 3 poems may not exceed 80 lines in length.
  • We do not consider previously published work, which includes online publications.
  • Files should not include any information that reveals the identity of the author. Any entries that reveal the author’s identity will be discounted.
  • File name must include the title of each poem submitted.
  • Simultaneous submissions are allowed. Notify us immediately if a poem is placed elsewhere by sending an email to submissions@writingsalons.com.
  • Email and mail submissions will not be read.
  • All rights revert to the author upon publication of the poem.
  • The winner and finalists will be announced at our website.

Important Contest Dates

 Submission Period:

October 01, 2022 – December 01, 2022

Open to Submissions

The Winner & Finalists will be
announced in March 2023.

Important Contest Dates

 Submission Period:

October 01, 2022 – December 01, 2022

Open to Submissions

The Winner & Finalists will be
announced in March 2023.

Contest Guidelines

  • The contest is open to all poets.
  • The entry fee is $15. This fee is non-refundable.
  • Contestants may submit one entry of up to 3 poems. Poems must be sent in a single file.
  • Each of the 3 poems may not exceed 80 lines in length.
  • We do not consider previously published work, which includes online publications.
  • Files should not include any information that reveals the identity of the author. Any entries that reveal the author’s identity will be discounted.
  • File name must include the title of each poem submitted.
  • Simultaneous submissions are allowed. Notify us immediately if a poem is placed elsewhere by sending an email to submissions@writingsalons.com.
  • Email and mail submissions will not be read.
  • All rights revert to the author upon publication of the poem.
  • The winner and finalists will be announced at our website.

Reading Policy

We believe that blind judging offers contestants a fair and unbiased reading of their work. We assure all contestants that their identity will not be revealed to our readers and ask that they refrain from including identifying information on their submissions. A selection of Writing Salon teachers will screen the entries, and Sharan Strange will be the final judge. All readers have a distinguished publication record and have won major poetry prizes. Each entry will pass through at least two readers.

2022 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize Final Judge

Sharan Strange’s writings have appeared in journals and anthologies—recently, including The Art Section: An Online Journal of Art and Cultural CommentaryAunt Chloe: A Journal of Artful Candor; Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry; Black Imagination; and Bigger Than Bravery: Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic—and in gallery and museum exhibitions in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Oakland, and Seattle. Her collaborations with composers have been performed by American Modern Ensemble, The Dream Unfinished Orchestra, and International Contemporary Ensemble, among others. Currently, she is composing song cycles and a libretto for opera slated for production in 2024.

Hear from Our Judge

Poets are conduits. Energies—of yearning, curiosity, fear, anger, resolve—move us, move through us, transformed, transforming…to you, you, you…and they return, transformed, transforming…. Through our creative acts, we can serve the truest correspondences with one another: courageous truth-telling, compassion, justice…boldly investing in an ethic of mutual care…affirming—not just abstractly—life and the freedom to breathe for everyone.

Sharan Strange’s writings have appeared in journals and anthologies—recently, including The Art Section: An Online Journal of Art and Cultural CommentaryAunt Chloe: A Journal of Artful Candor; Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry; Black Imagination; and Bigger Than Bravery: Black Resilience and Reclamation in a Time of Pandemic—and in gallery and museum exhibitions in New York, Boston, Atlanta, Oakland, and Seattle. Her collaborations with composers have been performed by American Modern Ensemble, The Dream Unfinished Orchestra, and International Contemporary Ensemble, among others. Currently, she is composing song cycles and a libretto for opera slated for production in 2024.

Hear from Our Judge

Poets are conduits. Energies—of yearning, curiosity, fear, anger, resolve—move us, move through us, transformed, transforming…to you, you, you…and they return, transformed, transforming…. Through our creative acts, we can serve the truest correspondences with one another: courageous truth-telling, compassion, justice…boldly investing in an ethic of mutual care…affirming—not just abstractly—life and the freedom to breathe for everyone.

Ready to Submit Your Poems for the 2022 Competition?

  • Allison Landa
    Allison Landa

    Allison Landa

    Allison Landa is a Berkeley-based writer of fiction and memoir whose work has been featured in The Guardian US, The Washington Post, and The Huffington Post, among other venues. She is the author of BEARDED LADY, a memoir forthcoming from Woodhall Press. Landa holds an MFA in creative writing from St. Mary’s College of California and runs the On the Cusp reading series in San Francisco. She is represented by Marisa Zeppieri of Strachan Literary.

    Hear from Our Judge

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