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.
Congratulations to the Winner!
The 2019 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize winner is John Sibley Williams for his poem “Armistice.”
The Prizewinner Will Receive
Important Contest Dates
September 1, 2020 – December 1, 2020
Closed to Submissions
The Winner & Finalists will be
announced in March 2021.
- 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.
- Poems should not include any information that reveals the identity of the author. Any entries that reveal the author’s identity will be discounted.
- Submissions will be accepted through Submittable.
- Simultaneous submissions are allowed. Notify us immediately if a poem is placed elsewhere by adding a note to your submission at Submittable.
- Email and mail submissions will not be read.
- The winner and finalists will be announced at our website.
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 read the entries and judge the contest. All readers have a distinguished publication record and have won major poetry prizes. Each entry will pass through at least two readers.
2019 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize Final Judge
Rick Barot has published three volumes of poetry: The Darker Fall (2002), Want (2008), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and won the 2009 Grub Street Book Prize, and Chord (2015), all published by Sarabande Books. Chord received the UNT Rilke Prize, the PEN Open Book Award, and the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award. It was also a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. His work has appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, The New Republic, the New York Times Magazine, Tin House, The Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, and the Best American Poetry series. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Artist Trust of Washington, the Civitella Ranieri, and Stanford University. He lives in Tacoma, Washington and directs the Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency MFA program in creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University. He is also the poetry editor for New England Review. His fourth book of poems, The Galleons, is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in early 2020.
Hear from Our Judge
There’s something beyond craft that makes a powerful poem powerful. Maybe that something is the alchemy created by what the poem is about, what it’s saying, what led the poet to the page in passionate inquiry and emotion, along with all the craft elements being used in the poem to generate that heightened linguistic experience. Taken individually, these craft elements—whether it’s imagery, figure, music, lineation, syntax, diction, structure, and so on—hold up when you apply hard scrutiny to them. That is, when you get into the weeds of the poem’s mechanics, each craft decision made by the poet has a kind of inevitable rightness to it. Still, what I love as a reader of poems is being in that alchemical space where pleasure and mystery are being experienced, with language working in all its complexity to generate that experience.