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 Vandana Khanna.

2020

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Congratulations to the Winner!

The 2020 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize winner is Kelly Grace Thomas for her poem “Nothing Roots or Infertility.”

Read the Poem

Finalists:

Tony Barnstone
Twila Newey
Emily Pulfer-Terino
Lizabeth Yandel

The Prizewinner Will Receive

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An award of $250

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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.
  • 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 15, 2021 – December 15, 2021

Open to Submissions

The Winner & Finalists will be
announced in March or April 2022.

Important Contest Dates

 Submission Period:

October 15, 2021 – December 15, 2021

Open to Submissions

The Winner & Finalists will be
announced in March 2021.

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.
  • 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 Vandana Khanna 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.

2021 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize Final Judge

Born in New Delhi, India, Vandana Khanna is a writer, educator, and editor. Her third collection of poems is forthcoming from Alice James Books in 2023, and her previous books have won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize, The Miller Williams Poetry Prize, and the Diode Editions Chapbook Competition. Her work has appeared widely in publications such as the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, The New Republic, New England Review, Guernica, and Narrative, as well as on BBC 3 and “The Slowdown” hosted by Tracy K. Smith. She is a poetry editor at the Los Angeles Review.

Hear from Our Judge

One of the biggest influences in my writing life has been being an immigrant: hearing stories in two different languages, living two separate lives as a child. Reading and writing became a way for me to find my place—it became my way to fit into a world that was of my own making.

Born in New Delhi, India, Vandana Khanna is a writer, educator, and editor. Her third collection of poems is forthcoming from Alice James Books in 2023, and her previous books have won the Crab Orchard Review First Book Prize, The Miller Williams Poetry Prize, and the Diode Editions Chapbook Competition. Her work has appeared widely in publications such as the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, The New Republic, New England Review, Guernica, and Narrative, as well as on BBC 3 and “The Slowdown” hosted by Tracy K. Smith. She is a poetry editor at the Los Angeles Review.

Hear from Our Judge

One of the biggest influences in my writing life has been being an immigrant: hearing stories in two different languages, living two separate lives as a child. Reading and writing became a way for me to find my place—it became my way to fit into a world that was of my own making.

Ready to Submit Your Poems for the 2021 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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