Southeast Missouri State University Press

The Cowles Poetry Book Prize

an annual competition in honor of Vern Cowles, a man who loved literature

Reading Fee: $25 payable through our Submittable page.
Award, contest deadline of April 1, 2022
Prize: $2,000 and 30 copies for the author, publication and distribution of a full-length poetry manuscript with a full-color perfect-bound cover.

Manuscripts submitted to the contest will be read and judged anonymously.


Submission Guidelines

  • Individual poems in the manuscript may have been published previously in a chapbook, magazines, journals or anthologies, but the work as a whole must be unpublished.
  • Translations and previously self-published books are not eligible.
  • Open to any living poet writing in English, age 18 or older, regardless of publication history.
  • Send 48-100 pages of poetry–any style or theme–with a table of contents and an acknowledgements page for any previously published poems.
  • The page count doesn’t include the table of contents or acknowledgements.
  • Manuscripts must be typed, each manuscript page numbered, with the following information submitted in the cover letter field on Submittable:
    • Contest title
    • Manuscript title
    • Author name
    • Address
    • Telephone number
    • Email (if available)
    • Your name and contact information must not appear anywhere else on the manuscript.
  • Contestants may submit more than one manuscript, but a separate entry fee must accompany each manuscript.
  • Please let us know immediately if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere.
  • Employees and students of Southeast Missouri State University Press are not eligible.
  • Failure to follow these guidelines may disqualify entry.

Submit entries with $25 reading fee to our Submittable page:


Winner and finalists will be announced in the winter following the contest deadline, on our website.

For further information email