Robin Coste Lewis to Judge Kore's

2016 First Book Award

NEW DEADLINES Sept 30, 2016

Robin Coste Lewis, 2015 National Book Award winner in Poetry for Voyage of the Sable Venus, is a Provost’s Fellow in Poetry and Visual Studies at the University of Southern California. She is also a Cave Canem fellow and a fellow of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities. She received her MFA in poetry from NYU, and an MTS in Sanskrit and comparative religious literature from the Divinity School at Harvard University. A finalist for the Rita Dove Poetry Award, she has published her work in various journals and anthologies, including The Massachusetts Review, Callaloo, The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, Transition: Women in Literary Arts, VIDA, Phantom Limb, and Lambda Literary Review, among others. She has taught at Wheaton College, Hunter College, Hampshire College, and the NYU Low-Residency MFA in Paris. Lewis was born in Compton, California; her family is from New Orleans.




2015 First Book Award winner

Zayne Turner for "Body Burden"


A prize of $1500 and trade book publication for a first,

full-length book of poems to a female writer.

Tracie Morris: "This manuscript is visceral, bold and expansive. The writing and its organization is physically impactful. The range of writings and the seamless ways in which very different types of writing interact with each other unites driven and divergent environments of poetic thought. Body Burden inhabits the body. It's a pleasure to read, see and *feel* with the body."

Zayne Turner upon learning she won: "I'm still pretty much in shock. But, that aside: I am elated & full of gratitude. I'm so grateful that Tracie Morris and the readers from Kore spent time with my work, really saw the work--that feels like the part that really matters. The fact that the 2015 First Book Award also means the privilege of entering the fierce, various & evolving conversations Kore has hosted & amplified for decades is stunning & electrifying. My deepest thanks to the readers, to Kore, Tracie Morris & all the writers who shared their work & keep sharing their work. It's an honor to be in this community."

Zayne Turner, grew up in the rural High Desert of Oregon. She is the author of the chapbook Memory of My Mouth, from dancing girl press, and chapbooks and broadsides published in her name and collaboratively as T.H. Peros by Edison St. Press. She has received grants and fellowships for literary & visual arts from the Arteles Creative Center in Finland, Oregon Arts Commission, Vermont Studio Center and the University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She lives and works in Minneapolis

Finalists: Nancy Chen Long & Leah Huizar

Morris: "Light Into Bodies fills the senses with the cracks and crinkles, the delicate reverberations that indicate the fragility of life. It's understatement and economy fully engages unsettling remembrances for the reader as someone who engages in this world, this family as well as the ghosts of one's own."     
Nancy Chen Long is the author of the chapbook Clouds as Inkblots for the War Prone (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2013). Recent work is in Bat City Review, Pleiades, Superstition Review, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. As a volunteer with the local Writers Guild, she coordinates a reading series and offers free poetry workshops to the public. Nancy has a BS in Electrical Engineering Technology, an MBA and MFA, and worked as an electrical engineer, software consultant, and project manager. She currently works at Indiana Universi
ty in the Research Technologies division.

Morris: "The landscape in this beautiful manuscript is rich, verdant and a tough terrain. The book presents work through an unflinching panoramic vision. I enjoyed experiencing these poems of "Inland Empire" over and over."  

Leah Huizar  is a Mexican-American writer originally from Southern California. She holds an MFA from The Pennsylvania State University and her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Nimrod, Crab Orchard Review, Nashville Review, and elsewhere.

Many thanks to all the writers who submitted this year, to our judge, Tracie Morris, and to our readers (Meg Day, Sabrina Dalla Valle, Ching-In Chen, Ashaki Jackson, and Rebecca Seiferle) for your time, dedication, and hard work these past few months!

Tracie Morris is a poet who has worked extensively as a page-based writer, sound poet, critic, scholar, bandleader, actor and multimedia performer. Her sound installations have been presented at the Whitney Biennial, MoMA, Ronald Feldman Gallery, The Silent Barn, The Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, The Drawing Center, The Gramsci Monument with Thomas Hirshhorn for the DIA Foundation and other galleries and museums. Tracie presents her work extensively as a poet, performer and scholar around the globe and has presented, performed and researched in almost 30 countries and 37 US States. She holds an MFA in Poetry from Hunter College, has studied classical British acting technique extensively at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and holds a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University. Tracie is Professor and Coordinator of Performance Studies at Pratt Institute, Brooklyn, New York. 

How to Submit Your Manuscript

Note: in 2015 the cash award to the contest winner was increased from $1000 to $1500, plus 20 author copies. The 2016 contest deadline is Aug 30, 2016. Contest opens March 1. This competition is open each year to any female writer who has not published a full-length collection of poetry. Writers who have had chapbooks of less than 42 pages printed in editions of no more than 400 copies are eligible.

Comment box should include:

  • Daytime and evening telephone numbers
  • Where you heard about the contest

Manuscripts must be:
• A minimum of 48 pages and a maximum of 90 pages. no cover letter needed.
• Anonymous (do not include your name anywhere on the manuscript)
• Original poetry written by applicant (translations are not eligible)

$28 reading fee

Submit online here. More guidelines provided on submissions page.

For more information email us or call 520-327-2127.


Ethics Statement

We endorse and agree to comply with the following statement released by the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses:

CLMP's community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to:

1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors;

2) provide clear and specific contest guidelines -- defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and

3) make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public.

This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.


2014 First Book Winner

Silent Anatomies

by Monica Ong

Judge: Joy Harjo

Available NOW!

Harjo says of Silent Anatomies: "This is one of the most unique poetry collections. It’s a kind of graphic poetry book, but that’s not exactly it either. Poetry unfurls within, outside and through images. The images are stark representations that include bottles that have been excavated from a disappeared age, contemporary ultrasound images of a fetus, family photographs and charts. They establish stark bridges between ancestor and descendant time and presence. This collection is highly experimental and exciting."

Monica Ong is a poet and artist dwelling in experimental spaces. She completed her MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design in Digital Media, and is also a Kundiman poetry fellow. Her work has been published in Seneca Review, Drunken Boat, Glassworks Magazine, Tidal Basin Review, and others. An exhibiting artist for over a decade, she draws from her professional design practice to innovate on the alchemy of text and image.


2013 Winner
River Legs

Jen McClanaghan
Judge: Nikkey Finny

(2012 on hiatus)

2011 Winner
Double Agent

Michelle Chan Brown
Judge: Bhanu Kapil

2010 Winner
Love and the Eye

Laura Newbern
Judge: Claudia Rankine

2009 Winner
Something in the

Potato Room

Heather Cousins
Judge: Patricia Smith

2008 Winner
Souvenirs of a

Shrunken World

Holly Iglesias
Judge: Harryette Mullen

2007 Winner
Benjamin's Spectacles

Spring Ulmer
Judge: Sonia Sanchez

2006 Winner
Loveliest Grotesque

Sandra Lim
Judge: Marilyn Chin

2005 Winner
The Errant Thread
Elline Lipkin
Judge: Eavan Boland

2004 Winner

Various Modes of Departure
Deborah Fries
Judge: Carolyn Forché

2003 Winner

Rigging the Wind
Jennifer Barber
Judge: Jane Miller