Southeast Missouri State University Press

Southeast Missouri State University

The Cowles Poetry Book Prize

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

Deadline: Entries must be postmarked by April 1, annually.
Reading Fee: $25 check/money order/cash, made payable to Southeast Missouri State University Press, must accompany each entry.
Award, contest deadline of April 1, 2017: $2,000 and 30 copies for the author, publication and distribution of a full-length poetry manuscript with a full-color perfect-bound cover, winner will retain full copyright of his or her work.

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may have been published previously in a chapbook, magazines, journals or anthologies, but the work as a whole must be unpublished.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.
  • No online submissions.
  • Manuscripts must be typed, each manuscript page numbered, with the following information on a separate title page:
    • 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.
  • Enclose entry fee of $25.
  • Contestants may submit more than one manuscript, but a separate entry fee and title page must accompany each manuscript.
  • If you would like a copy of the winning book, please enclose a total payment of $29 ($4 for the book).
  • Receipt of manuscript will be acknowledged only if the submission is accompanied by a self-addressed, stamped postcard. Manuscripts will not be returned.
  • For mail notification of contest results, include a business-size SASE.
  • Please let us know immediately if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere.
  • All manuscripts will be recycled at the end of the contest.
  • Employees and students of Southeast Missouri State University Press are not eligible.
  • Failure to follow these guidelines may disqualify entry.

Mail entries with $25 reading fee to:

Cowles Poetry Book Prize
Southeast Missouri State University Press
One University Plaza, MS 2650
Cape Girardeau, MO 63701

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

For further information, Carrie at