Guidelines and Requirements
Enrollment Requirements

Only currently enrolled undergraduate students at the University of Michigan for the Fall 2019 and Winter 2020 semesters are eligible.

(Note: While we encourage you do, you don’t have to have taken ENG 223 or even any English classes at all to submit a manuscript for consideration.)

Chapbook Guidelines

20-30 pages, single-spaced word doc, docx, or PDF. Please include a title page and table of contents, which need not be included in the overall page count. Paginate submissions, and please make sure that your name, email address, and other contact information DOES NOT appear anywhere in the document, including the title page. Do not include publication acknowledgments. Your contact information will be saved by our submission manager and revealed to the readers/editors after the winner and finalists have been chosen.

Simultaneous submissions are fine, but entries should be withdrawn immediately if accepted elsewhere. The entry fee will not be refunded. Remember that what you submit will be the final product; the manuscript cannot be revised after submission.

The manuscript may include pieces that have been published previously, but the manuscript as a whole must be unpublished.
You may include a cover letter, with a short bio, in the space provided. After winner and finalist selections have been made, our submission manager will reveal names and contact information to the readers/editors.

Click here to submit your entry

Preparation (i.e., the writing)

Because chapbooks are slimmer collections, they invite concise, thematic projects. Chapbooks, similar to zines in this way, have been the home of lyric essays, overarching poetic narratives, hybrid poetics, and individual poems that link together into a larger thesis. In fact, Edgar Allen Poe argued that great writings should be short enough to read in a single setting:

If any literary work is too long to be read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable from unity of impression—for, if two sittings be required, the affairs of the world interfere, and everything like totality is at once destroyed.

The Philosophy of Composition (on Poetry Foundation: click here.)

Taking Poe’s description to heart for chapbooks means maintaining the reader’s sense of intensity with the content on the page. If a tornado comes through your dear reader’s living room, they might first yell, hold on, I Just want to read another page!

So, we’re looking for chapbooks capable of conveying a whole experience (be that an argument, story, treatise, thought experiment, poetic essay, etc.). Writing driven by urgent necessity. Writing driven by the gravity of every valuable word and page to guide the reader through the chapbook’s poetic world.

Preparation (i.e., everything else)

The best preparation is reading already published chapbooks (and really any books, poetry or otherwise). Here’s a partial list of chapbooks that inspire us and could be helpful to read:

  • The Other Hand by C.D. Wright (Horse Less Press)
  • Nonfiction by Shane McCrae (Black Lawrence Press)
  • Black movie by Danez Smith (Button Poetry)
  • Of Darkness and Tumbling by Mónica Gomery (YesYes Books)
  • Lucy by Jean Valentine (Sarabande Books)
  • Flowers of Rad by Sampson Starkweather (Factory Hollow Press)
  • Death by Sex Machine by Franny Choi (Sibling Rivalry Press)
  • Children of Another Hour by Mara Pastor/ Translated by Noel Black (Argos Books)
  • In Absolutes We Seek Each Other by Jessica Johnson (Diagram/New Michigan Press)
  • The Bird Eaters by Rebecca Valley (Dancing Girl Press)
  • Linnaeus: The 26 Sexual Practices of Plants by Emily Skillings (No, Dear/Small Anchor)

Additionally, one could take advantage of the resources on campus, like attending visiting writers’ readings and craft talks (available through the Helen Zell Writers’ Program events page), MFA student readings (available on the same page as above), and creative writing classes at University of Michigan.

Lastly, feel free take a look at our resources page, which archives writing prompts and links to online poetry resources.