Cleveland State University

Poetry Center

Contest Guidelines

$1,000 and publication in the CSU Poetry Series is offered for the best full-length volumes of original poetry in English submitted between TBA (postmark deadline).

The First Book Award is given to an author who has not previously published a book of poetry.
The Open Competition is for poets who have previously published at least one full-length collection.

First Book Award Judge: TBA


  • manuscripts are eligible for the First Book competition if the author has not published or committed to publish a collection of his or her poetry in a book of 48 or more pages with a press run of at least 500 copies; if an author’s prior books were all self-published or published by subsidy presses, they should still enter the First Book competition
  • entry to the Open Competition is limited to authors who have published at least one full-length collection of original poetry in English (of 48 or more pages with a press run of at least 500 copies) with a non-subsidy press
  • intimate friends, relatives, current and former students of First Book judge Tracy K. Smith (students in an academic, degree-conferring program or its equivalent) are not eligible to enter the 2013 First Book contest
  • current faculty, staff,, students, and alumni of Cleveland State University or the Northeast Ohio MFA Program (NEOMFA) are not eligible to submit their work to either competition
  • poets whose collections were previously published by the CSU Poetry Center are not eligible to submit their work to either competition
  • manuscripts that have been previously published in their entirety, including self-published manuscripts, are not eligible
  • translations are not eligible
  • simultaneous submissions are acceptable; please inform us immediately if the manuscript is accepted elsewhere


  • manuscript should contain a minimum of 48 and a maximum of 100 pages of poetry
  • reading fee: $25.00 per manuscript, check or money order payable to Cleveland State University
  • manuscript pages should be numbered, include a table of contents
  • include one cover page with manuscript title, your name, address, phone number, and e-mail address (your name should not appear elsewhere on the manuscript); include a second cover page containing manuscript title only
  • clearly indicate “First Book” or “Open Competition” on outside of mailing envelope and on each cover page
  • include an acknowledgments page after the first cover page, listing any previously published poems (as well as all previously published full-length collections of original poetry if you’re submitting your work to the Open Competition)
  • send multiple submissions in the same envelope, marked “Multiple”


  • for notification of manuscript receipt, include a self-addressed, stamped postcard 
  • for notification of contest results, include email address and/or a self-addressed, stamped envelope
  • manuscripts are not returned, and once submitted, cannot be altered; winners will be given the opportunity to make changes prior to publication
  • the CSU Poetry Center reserves the right  to consider all finalists’ manuscripts for publication
  • listing of winners and finalists will be posted on the Poetry Center website:
  • email with any further questions

Cleveland State University Poetry Center Prizes
(please specify: First Book or Open Competition)
Department of English
2121 Euclid Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214

engaged learning

Mailing Address
Cleveland State University
2121 Euclid Avenue, RT 1841
Cleveland, OH 44115-2214
Campus Location
Rhodes Tower, Room 1841
1860 East 22nd Street

Contact Information
Phone: 216.687.3986
Toll Free: 888.278.6473
Fax: 216.687.6943

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