Huge Holiday Sale! 40% off All In-Print Titles! Enter promo code: Holiday40 at checkout.

This contest is currently closed.

The Black River Chapbook Competition

Twice each year Black Lawrence Press will run the Black River Chapbook Competition for an unpublished chapbook of poems or prose between 16-36 pages in length. The contest is open to new, emerging, and established writers. The winner will receive book publication, a $500 cash award, and ten copies of the book. Prizes are awarded on publication.

Our chapbooks are perfect-bound, feature striking cover designs, each receive an ISBN, and are distributed nationally through Small Press Distribution, as well as on our website and at We treat our chapbooks just like our full-length titles in terms of aesthetics, production, publicity, and editorial love and care.

Spring Entry Period: April 1 – May 31 Fall Entry Period: September 1 - October 31 How to submit ›

How to Submit

Black Lawrence Press accepts submissions and payment of the entry fee ($17) exclusively through our online submission manager, Submittable. We are not able to accept submissions via email or postal mail.

All entries are read without identifying information by our panel of judges and editors. All manuscripts should include a title page (listing only the title of the work), table of contents (if applicable), and when appropriate, an acknowledgments page. Manuscripts should be paginated and formatted in an easy-to-read font such as Garamond or Times New Roman. Manuscripts should be 16-36 pages in length (double-spaced for fiction and creative non-fiction), not including front and back matter (table of contents, title page, etc.). Identifying information for the author should not be included anywhere on the manuscript itself, including in the name of your file or in the “title” field in Submittable. You are welcome to include a brief bio or something about yourself in your cover note on Submittable, which will only be made accessible to the editorial panel after the group of Semi-Finalist and Finalist manuscripts has been chosen.

A note regarding previously published work: Chapbooks containing individual stories or poems that have been previously published online or in print are absolutely eligible for the BRCC–please simply note previously published work on an acknowledgments page. On the other hand, if your chapbook–or a significant portion of the work included in your chapbook–has been previously published as a book or chapbook-length collection (including publication with a press, self-publication, online/digital publication, and publication in a small, limited-edition print run), then the manuscript is not eligible for the BRCC.

  • Simultaneous submissions are acceptable and encouraged, but please notify us by withdrawing your manuscript on Submittable immediately if it is accepted for publication elsewhere.
  • Multiple submissions (the submission of more than one manuscript to the contest) are permitted.
  • Collaborative collections are welcome.
  • Hybrid/multi-genre submissions are also welcome; please enter under the submission category that best fits your work.
  • Prose category: Beginning with the Spring 2019 contest, our category previously titled “fiction” has been re-categorized as “prose” to accommodate fiction, creative non-fiction, lyric essay, and prose hybrid manuscripts. (Chapbooks of prose poems and poetry/prose hybrid projects can be submitted under either poetry or prose, per your preference.)
  • We cannot accept translations for the BRCC.
  • We will consider submissions including visual art (i.e. interior illustrations or photographs), but please note we do not regularly publish chapbooks with interior art. Please do not include suggested cover artwork with your submission.

Contest results:

  • SPRING: Finalists and semi-finalists for the spring competition are announced around the end of August each year. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter.
  • FALL: Finalists and semi-finalists for the fall competition are announced around the end of January each year. The winner will be announced shortly thereafter.

Need help with our submissions manager?

Questions about the contest? Contact: [email protected]

We look forward to reading your work!


Beginning with the Spring 2014 contest, the Black River Chapbook Competition is judged by a revolving panel of judges, in addition to the Chapbook Editor and other members of the BLP editorial staff. The judging panel is comprised of Black Lawrence chapbook authors including:

Ruth Baumann (author of Retribution Binary)
Mary Biddinger (author of Saint Monica)
Alan Chazaro (author of This Is Not a Frank Ocean Cover Album)
Lisa Fay Coutley (author of In the Carnival of Breathing)
Nicole Cuffy (author of Atlas of the Body)
Jenny Drai (author of The New Sorrow is Less Than the Old Sorrow)
Ashley Morrow Hermsmeier (author of Something Like the End)
Kamden Hilliard (author of Perceived Distance from Impact)
Sabrina Imbler (author of Dyke (geology))
Zefyr Lisowski (author of Blood Box)
Christopher Locke (author of 25 Trumbulls Road)
Amelia Martens (author of Purgatory)
Nick McRae (author of Mountain Redemption)
Veronica Montes (author of The Conquered Sits at the Bus Stop, Waiting)
Simone Muench (author of Trace and co-author of Hex & Howl)
Jessica Piazza (author of This is not a sky)
Isaac Pickell (author of everything saved will be last)
Alison Powell (author of The Art of Perpetuation)
Meghan Privitello (author of Notes on the End of the World)
Matthew Raymond (author of The Muddy Season)
Nancy Reddy (author of Acadiana)
Danielle Rose (author of at first & then)
Ryan Patrick Smith (author of The Death Metal Pastorals)
Chelsea Stickle (author of Breaking Points)
Cate O’Toole (author of Oh My Darling)
Russel Swensen (author of Santa Ana)
Jackie K. White (co-author of Hex & Howl)
Jeff Whitney (author of Radio Silence)

Previous Years’ Judges:

Brittany Cavallaro (co-author of No Girls No Telephones)
Caleb Curtiss (author of A Taxonomy of the Space Between Us)
Rebecca Hazelton (co-author of No Girls No Telephones)
Charlotte Pence (author of The Branches, the Axe, the Missing)
Sam Sax (author of sad boy / detective)
Philip Schaefer (author of Radio Silence)

Fall 2020 Winner © Sarah Bodri

SJ Sindu

Fall 2020 Black River Chapbook Competition winner for Dominant Genes

SJ Sindu is a Tamil diaspora author of two literary novels, two hybrid chapbooks, and a forthcoming graphic novel. Her first novel, Marriage of a Thousand Lies, won the Publishing Triangle Edmund White Award and was a Stonewall Honor Book and a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Sindu’s second novel, Blue-Skinned Gods, was published in November 2021 by Soho Press, and her graphic novel, Shakti, is forthcoming from Harper Collins. Sindu's hybrid fiction and nonfiction chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead, won the Turnbuckle Chapbook contest and was published by Split/Lip Press. A 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow, Sindu holds an MA in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a PhD in English and Creative Writing from Florida State University.

Visit Author Page