Southeast Missouri State University Press

Announcing the Winner of the 2020 Cowles Poetry Prize

We are excited to announce the winner and finalists of our 2020 Cowles Poetry Book Prize. The winning book will be published, and the winning poet will receive $2,000. We saw so many amazing manuscripts this year, and it was difficult to narrow down a list to send to our final judge, Emma Bolden. Thank you all for your interest in this contest! Without further ado, then, here is the winner, and then the finalists:

Winner: Hospice Plastics by Rachel Hinton

Originally from Vermont, Rachel Hinton holds an MFA in poetry from the University of California, Irvine, and a BA from Kenyon College. Her poems have appeared in The Boiler, Cimarron Review, the Denver Quarterly, SOFTBLOW, the Tahoma Literary Review, and other journals. She has previously taught courses at DePaul University, and currently works as an editor and content development manager in Chicago. Of Hinton’s manuscript, final judge Emma Bolden writes “This book absolutely hums and it’s so powerful, every line of it, and the way the author uses language astounds and amazes me.”


Thief by Jennifer Miller
Thunderhead by Emily Cole
Eveningful by Jennifer Whalen
Tell This to the Universe by Katie Prince


Bad Prayer by Katie Berta
Hands Pull You Apart by Emily Jaeger
Ode to the Earth in Translation
by George Looney
This Smile Is Starting to Hurt
by Dylan Loring
“Every Slow Thing” by Daniel Lusk
Eject City by Jason Morphew
Night Swimming by Liz Robbins
by Rebecca Schumejda
The Water Bear by Margaret Young
Portrait Miniatures by James K. Zimmerman