Interior Image

Cave Canem Poetry Prize

Print Friendly

Launched in 1999 with Rita Dove’s selection of Natasha Trethewey’s Domestic Work, this first-book award is dedicated to the discovery of exceptional manuscripts by black poets of African descent. View previous Prize Winning Books.

2017 Prize

Award: Winner receives $1,000, publication by University of Pittsburgh Press in fall 2018, 15 copies of the book and a feature reading.

Deadline: Winner announced via email by October 2017. Submission re-open spring of 2018.

Entry Fee: $20. Entry fees are non-refundable.Francis, Vievee - sepia

Final Judge: Vievee Francis (Judge reserves the right not to select a winner and/or honorable mentions.)

First Readers: Geffrey Davis, t’ai freedom ford and Jonterri Gadson.

Manuscripts are read without the reviewers and judge’s knowledge of contestants’ identities.

Eligibility: All unpublished, original collections of poems written in English by black writers of African descent who have not had a full-length book of poetry published by a professional press. Authors of chapbooks and self-published books with a maximum print run of 500 may apply. Simultaneous submission to other book awards should be noted: immediate notice upon winning such an award is required. Winner agrees to be present in the continental United States at her or his own expense shortly after the book is published in order to participate in promotional reading(s).

Exclusions: Current or former students, colleagues, employees, family members and close friends of the judge; current or former employees and members of the board of Cave Canem Foundation or the University of Pittsburgh Press; and authors who have published a book or have a book under contract with University of Pittsburgh Press are ineligible.

If any of the selected authors fall under the above exclusions, they will be disqualified and a replacement chosen from among the finalists. As the poetry community is small and the contest is judged without knowledge of the submitter’s identity, acquaintance with the judge or participation in a workshop taught by the judge are not disqualifying criteria.

Guidelines:

  • Submit manuscripts online via Submittable. Hard copy submissions will not be considered.
  • One manuscript per poet.
  • Upload manuscript as a .doc or .pdf document. Include a title page with the title only and table of contents. Author’s name should not appear on any pages within the uploaded document.
  • Include your cover letter in the Submittable text box—DO NOT include within the .doc or .pdf document of your manuscript. Cover letter should include author’s brief bio (200 words, maximum) and list of acknowledgments of previously published poems.
  • Manuscript must be paginated, with a font size of 11 or 12, and 48-75 pages in length, inclusive of title page and table of contents. A poem may be multiple pages, but no more than one poem per page is permitted. Columns are not permitted.
  • Manuscripts not adhering to submission guidelines will not be considered.
  • Post-submission revisions or corrections are not permitted.

Questions? Contact Elizabeth Bryant at ebryant@ccpoets.org.

2016 Winner

Graham, Natalie c- Cynthia A. BrianoCave Canem is pleased to announce that Kwame Dawes has selected Natalie J. Graham’s manuscript, Begin with a Failed Body, for the 2016 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Natalie will receive $1,000, publication by The University of Georgia Press in fall 2017, complimentary copies of the book, and a feature reading in New York City.

A native of Gainesville, Florida, Natalie earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Florida and completed her Ph.D. in American Studies at Michigan State University as a University Distinguished Fellow. Her poems have appeared in Callaloo, New England Review, Valley Voices: A Literary Review and Southern Humanities Review; and her articles are forthcoming in The Journal of Popular Culture and Transition. She is a Cave Canem fellow and assistant professor of African American Studies at California State University, Fullerton.

Honorable Mentions:

Nandi Comer for Tapping Out.

Heidi Richardson for In Praise of the Black Narcissus.

Funder: National Endowment for the Arts

nea-lockup-A