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 David Hernandez.

2019

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Congratulations to the Winner!

The 2019 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize winner is John Sibley Williams for his poem “Armistice.”

Read the Poem

Finalists:

Heather Campbell
Sharon Coleman
Grace Li

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.
  • Poems 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 adding a note to your submission at Submittable.
  • 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:

September 3, 2020 – December 1, 2020

Open to Submissions

The Winner & Finalists will be
announced in March 2021.

Important Contest Dates

 Submission Period:

September 3, 2020 – December 1, 2020

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.
  • 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 screen the entries, and David Hernandez 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.

2020 Jane Underwood Poetry Prize Final Judge

David Hernandez‘s most recent collection of poetry is Dear, Sincerely (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016). His other books include Hoodwinked (Sarabande Books, 2011), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry, Always Danger (SIU Press, 2006), winner of the Crab Orchard Series, and A House Waiting for Music (Tupelo Press, 2003). David has been awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship and two Pushcart Prizes. His poems have appeared in Field, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Southern Review, and The Best American Poetry. He is also the author of two YA novels, No More Us for You and Suckerpunch, both published by HarperCollins. David teaches creative writing at California State University, Long Beach and is married to writer Lisa Glatt.

Hear from Our Judge

Poetry has the capacity to pull you out of the fog of autopilot, to see the world as if for the first time, not to mention nourish your spirit and keep your empathy tank full. The value of all that is immeasurable. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, poems are expressions of brokenness. There should be some degree of ache in the material, a piece of shadow, or else one runs the risk of writing fluff. Fluff belongs in pillows, not poems.

David Hernandez‘s most recent collection of poetry is Dear, Sincerely (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016). His other books include Hoodwinked (Sarabande Books, 2011), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry, Always Danger (SIU Press, 2006), winner of the Crab Orchard Series, and A House Waiting for Music (Tupelo Press, 2003). David has been awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship and two Pushcart Prizes. His poems have appeared in Field, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Southern Review, and The Best American Poetry. He is also the author of two YA novels, No More Us for You and Suckerpunch, both published by HarperCollins. David teaches creative writing at California State University, Long Beach and is married to writer Lisa Glatt.
Poetry has the capacity to pull you out of the fog of autopilot, to see the world as if for the first time, not to mention nourish your spirit and keep your empathy tank full. The value of all that is immeasurable. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but for the most part—yes, poems are expressions of brokenness. There should be some degree of ache in the material, a piece of shadow, or else one runs the risk of writing fluff. Fluff belongs in pillows, not poems.

Ready to Submit Your Poems for the 2020 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. 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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