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 Rick Barot. The submission deadline is December 1, 2019.

2018

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Congratulations to the Winner!

The 2018 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize winner is Lisa Gluskin Stonestreet for her poem “When the women imagine their mothers in death.”

Finalists:

Valentina Gnup
Sarah HaBa
Rogan Kelly
Phill Provance
Charlotte O’Brien

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

Important Contest Dates

 Submission Period:

September 1, 2019 – December 1, 2019

Open to Submissions

The Winner & Finalists will be
announced in February 2020.

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.
  • 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.

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 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.

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.
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.

Ready to Submit Your Poems for the 2019 Competition?

  • Kerry Muir
    Kerry Muir

    Kerry Muir

    Kerry Muir‘s creative nonfiction has appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Crazyhorse, Fourth Genre, and elsewhere. Her essay collection, BLUR & Other Essays, was named one of three finalists in Bauhan Publishing’s 2017 Monadnock Essay Collection Prize, and her essay, “Blur,” is a notable in Best American Essays 2018. Kerry’s plays have received honors and awards from Sundance Theater Lab, Nantucket Short Play Festival and Competition, The Great Platte River Playwrights Festival, The Maxim Mazumdar New Play Competition, Trustus Theater Festival, and she has optioned and sold screenplays to producers in the US & Mexico. In late 2018, her award-winning play, The Night Buster Keaton Dreamed Me, was published in both English and Spanish by No Passport Press. A graduate of Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program, she has led writing workshops for teens at Children of the Night.

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