2021 Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry
Submission period: January 1 — May 31st (postmark or online submission-date)
Final Judge: Victoria Chang
The Berkshire Prize for a First or Second Book of Poetry includes a cash award of $3,000 in addition to publication by Tupelo Press, 20 copies of the winning title, a book launch, and national distribution with energetic publicity and promotion. Manuscripts are judged anonymously and all finalists will be considered for publication. Please read the complete guidelines before submitting your manuscript.
About This Year’s Contest Judge
Writer and editor Victoria Chang earned a BA in Asian studies from the University of Michigan, an MA in Asian studies from Harvard University, an MBA from Stanford University, and an MFA from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Her collections of poetry include Circle (2005), winner of the Crab Orchard Review Award Series in Poetry; Salvinia Molesta (2008); The Boss (2013); and Barbie Chang (2017). Her poems have been published in the Kenyon Review, Poetry, the Threepenny Review, and Best American Poetry 2005. In 2017, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Poet Susan Settlemyre Williams, reviewing Circle for the online journal blackbird, commented on the collection: “It frequently brings Randall Jarrell to mind, both in its wide range of subjects, including art, film, and history, in its many dramatic monologues, and particularly in its fundamental inquiry into the slippery nature of identity.” She noted the presence of characters in liminal states and women struggling with restrictive roles, observing that Chang’s “rueful wit and sense of irony undercut any sense of self-righteousness.”
Chang is the editor of the anthology Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (2004). In addition to editing, she writes children’s books and teaches in Antioch University’s MFA program. She lives in Southern California with her family.
Who May Submit
The Berkshire Prize is open to anyone writing in the English language, whether living in the United States or abroad. Translations are not eligible for this prize, nor are previously self-published books. Employees of Tupelo Press and authors with books previously published by Tupelo Press are not eligible. Poets submitting work for consideration may be authors having published only one previous full-length collection, or writers without prior book publications.
We continue to be impressed by the quality of work we see and generally receive many, many more worthy manuscripts than we are able to publish. In addition, each of our contests and reading periods has a different team of editors, guest editors, esteemed readers, and final judge. And of course our tastes and needs evolve from year to year with each production schedule. For all of these reasons and more, please know you are welcome to submit your manuscript even if you have already entered it in one or more of our contests or reading periods in the past, and even if you have a manuscript pending in a recent submission opportunity. Thank you for honoring us with your work — we’re excited to see what wonders arrive over the transom.
Manuscript Requirements & Ethical Guidelines
Submit a previously unpublished, full-length poetry manuscript with a table of contents. There is no mandatory page count. We suggest in the area of 48 to 88 pages of poems, but all manuscripts will be read and considered with full respect, regardless of length, and no manuscript will be rejected simply because it’s shorter or longer.
If you are submitting a manuscript online, within the document include a single cover page with the title of the manuscript only, so that your manuscript document remains anonymous. Submittable provides fields to fill in your contact information: name, address, telephone number, and email address.
If you are submitting a paper manuscript, include two cover pages: one with the title of the manuscript only, the other with title of manuscript, name, address, telephone number, and email address. Cover letters or biography notes are optional; if included, these will not be read until the conclusion of the contest.
Individual poems in a contest manuscript may have been previously published in magazines, journals, or anthologies, or chapbooks, but the work as a whole must be unpublished. If applicable, include with your manuscript an acknowledgments page for prior publications.
Simultaneous submissions to other publishers or contests are permitted, as long as you notify Tupelo Press promptly if a manuscript is accepted elsewhere.
Before you submit a manuscript to a Tupelo Press competition, please consider exploring the work of the poets we have published. We’re drawn to technical virtuosity combined with abundant imagination; memorable, vivid imagery and strikingly musical approaches to language; willingness to take risks; and an ability to convey penetrating insights into human experience.
Tupelo Press endorses and abides by the Ethical Guidelines of the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP), which can be reviewed here, along with more about Tupelo Press’s ethical considerations for literary contests.
Notification of Receipt
To confirm receipt of your paper manuscript, include a self-addressed stamped postcard. The online Submittable system automatically confirms receipt.
Beyond these notifications, kindly refrain from requesting an individual response to confirm receipt of your manuscript and/or payment. We receive thousands of manuscripts each year and cannot offer individual acknowledgments. Thank you for your understanding.
Please do not enclose a SASE for return of manuscript. All paper manuscripts will be recycled at the conclusion of the competition, except those under consideration for future publication.
Notification of Results
To receive mailed notification of the winner and finalists, send a self-addressed stamped envelope.
Results will be announced in late summer. We notify all entrants in three ways:
Via postal mail to those who included a SASE with their manuscript.
Via email to those who included an email address with their contact information.
We post the results on our website.
All entries must be postmarked or certified by Submittable by midnight (EST) of April 31st, 2021.
A reading fee of $30 (U.S.) must accompany each submission. Multiple submissions are accepted, so long as each submission is accompanied by a separate reading fee. Why a reading fee? We are an independent, nonprofit literary press. Reading fees help defray, but do not entirely cover, the cost of reviewing manuscripts and publishing the many books we select outside of our competitions.
If you are submitting your manuscript online, you will be prompted to pay via Submittable.
If you are mailing your manuscript to us, please enclose a check or money order for the reading fee, payable to Tupelo Press.
Submit Your Manuscript
There are two ways to submit your manuscript:
- Via Submittable: Submit Beginning on January 1. Be sure that your document is complete and formatted correctly before uploading.
- Via postal mail. Tupelo Press encourages online submissions to save paper but we still welcome mailed manuscripts. Be sure to include your check or money order.
Mail your domestic submission to: Tupelo Press Berkshire Prize, PO Box 1767, North Adams, MA 01247
Mail your international submission to: Tupelo Press Berkshire Prize, 60 Roberts Drive, Ste 308, North Adams MA 01247 USA