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 Craig Santos Perez.

2022

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Congratulations to the Winner!

The 2022 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize winner is Purvi Shah for her poem “In a womb – a new era – & Kali’s tongue.”

Read the Poem

Finalists:

T.S. Leonard
Emily Pulfer-Terino
Brenda Yeager
LiAnne Yu

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 full or abbreviated 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, 2023 – December 01, 2023

Closed to Submissions

The Winner & Finalists will be
announced in March 2024.

Important Contest Dates

 Submission Period:

October 01, 2023 – December 01, 2023

Closed to Submissions

The Winner & Finalists will be
announced in March 2024.

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 full or abbreviated 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 poets will screen the entries, and Craig Santos Perez 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.

2023 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize Final Judge

Craig Santos Perez is an indigenous Chamoru from Guam. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco and a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of six books of poetry and the academic monograph Navigating Chamoru Poetry: Indigeneity, Aesthetics, and Decolonization (2022). He is also the co-editor of seven anthologies, including Indigenous Literatures from Micronesia (2019) and Indigenous Pacific Islander Eco-Literatures (2022).

Hear from Our Judge

Poetry has always been important parts of political movements, and political movements have always inspired poetry. Poetry can help us articulate our own politics and interrogate oppressive structures and the language(s) of power. Poetry is a form of empowerment and inspiration. Poetry is a creative act amidst acts of destructive violence. Poetry is an expression of dignity, humanity, resilience, and hope.

Craig Santos Perez is an indigenous Chamoru from Guam. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of San Francisco and a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of six books of poetry and the academic monograph Navigating Chamoru Poetry: Indigeneity, Aesthetics, and Decolonization (2022). He is also the co-editor of seven anthologies, including Indigenous Literatures from Micronesia (2019) and Indigenous Pacific Islander Eco-Literatures (2022).

Hear from Our Judge

Poetry has always been important parts of political movements, and political movements have always inspired poetry. Poetry can help us articulate our own politics and interrogate oppressive structures and the language(s) of power. Poetry is a form of empowerment and inspiration. Poetry is a creative act amidst acts of destructive violence. Poetry is an expression of dignity, humanity, resilience, and hope.

Past Winners

2022 – Purvi Shah: In a womb – a new era – & Kali’s tongue (selected by Sharan Strange)

2021 – Sydney Vogl: All the Bars Are Closing (selected by Vandana Khanna)

2020 – Kelly Grace Thomas: Nothing Roots or Infertility (selected by David Hernandez)

2019 – John Sibley Williams: Armistice (selected by Rick Barot)

2018 – Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet: When the women imagine their mothers in death (selected by Arisa White)

2017 – Amanda Moore: When I Hear “Horses” as “Corsets” (selected by Julie Bruck, Alison Luterman & Kathleen McClung)

Past Winners

2022 – Purvi Shah: In a womb – a new era – & Kali’s tongue (selected by Sharan Strange)

2021 – Sydney Vogl: All the Bars Are Closing (selected by Vandana Khanna)

2020 – Kelly Grace Thomas: Nothing Roots or Infertility (selected by David Hernandez)

2019 – John Sibley Williams: Armistice (selected by Rick Barot)

2018 – Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet: When the women imagine their mothers in death (selected by Arisa White)

2017 – Amanda Moore: When I Hear “Horses” as “Corsets” (selected by Julie Bruck, Alison Luterman & Kathleen McClung)

Ready to Submit Your Poems for the 2023 Competition?

  • Jessica Litwak
    Jessica Litwak

    Jessica Litwak

    Jessica Litwak, Ph.D, is an award-winning playwright and actor. She has written over 40 plays which have been produced throughout the U.S., Europe and the Middle East. Her work is published by No Passport Press, Smith & Krause, Applause Books and The New York Times. She is a Drama Therapist, puppet builder and recognized leader in the field of socially engaged theatre, Artistic Director of The H.E.A.T. Collective, core member of Theatre Without Borders, and a Fulbright Scholar. She has taught acting and playwriting at SF State, LA City College, Naropa, Whitman College, Columbia University, and NYU.

    Hear from Our Judge

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