Four Quartets: Poetry in the Pandemic

Submission period: May 11 — June 30

Judges: Publisher Jeffrey Levine, Editor In Chief Kristina Marie Darling, Poetry Editor Cassandra Cleghorn

Honorarium: $250

We are pleased to announce an open call for four 12-page folios of poetry, to be included in a book to be published by Tupelo Press in the late fall, titled: Four Quartets: Poetry in the Pandemic. Submissions open immediately and close promptly at midnight, Tuesday, June 30th

What does it mean to make art in the light of COVID-19? This world-historic event to which we find ourselves both captive and witness will take lifetimes to process. As poets, we value slow art, resisting the urge to put the unfolding moment to poetic use. And yet, many of us are feeling the powerful need to write and read about what we are experiencing. Tupelo Press wants to honor this impulse. 

To that end, we will publish a book of sixteen 12-page folios of poetry written on topics related to the coronavirus pandemic: wellness and illness; contagion; isolation; sheltering at home; caregiving; bereavement; philosophical or spiritual ways of processing; science; public health; or the political landscape in which the pandemic is unfolding; etc.

Please note that this submission opportunity is not limited to newly drafted work, although it would be lovely to see what you’re writing now. Yet, it’s entirely likely that work written before the pandemic is taking on new relevance in the light of this phenomenon, inspiring return and revision. We want to see what you’re learning about yourself and your art at this momentous time. 

We will select four folios of poetry—to be read blind—from among the manuscripts submitted during this open call. Selections will be made by Jeffrey Levine, Publisher, Kristina Marie Darling, Editor-in-Chief, and Cassandra Cleghorn, Poetry Editor.

We invite submissions from poets writing in English anywhere in the world, and we are also open to sensitive English-language translations.

The four selected poets, comprising a “quartet,” will be published alongside three other quartets already in preparation by such literary luminaries as Mary Jo Bang, Yusef Komunyakaa, Khadijah Queen, Shane McCrae, A. Van Jordan, Jimmy Santiago Baca, and six other noted poets who have each kindly committed to participating in this project.

We expect to select the four open-call folios by the end of July. We offer an honorarium to the poets selected for inclusion in this unique volume in the amount of $250 each.

On a practical note, we are unable to include work previously published in book form, but prior literary magazine publications are perfectly fine, as long as those journals took first publication rights only. 

The copyright to your work will remain in your name, and all publication rights to your poems will revert to you six months from the date of publication.

Manuscript Requirements & Ethical Guidelines

Submit 12 pages of poetry, poems of any length, written on topics relatedin some way or ways to the coronavirus pandemic: wellness and illness; contagion; isolation; sheltering at home; caregiving; bereavement; philosophical or spiritual ways of processing; science; public health; the political landscape in which the pandemic is unfolding; etc. Margins, font size, number of lines, whatever, is entirely up to you. You’re the artist. Your canvas is 12 pages. 

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 August, 2020. 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.

Deadline;  All entries must be postmarked or certified by Submittable by midnight (EST) of June 30, 2020.


Reading Fee

A reading fee of $22 (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 Now

There are two ways to submit your manuscript:

  • Via Submittable: Submit Beginning on May 11. Be sure that your document is complete and formatted correctly before uploading.  Submit here.
  • 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 Four Quartets: Poetry In The Pandemic, PO Box 1767, North Adams, MA 01247
    • Mail your international submission to: Tupelo Press Four Quartets: Poetry In The Pandemic, 60 Roberts Drive #308, North Adams MA 01247 USA

We do not accept manuscripts via email or fax.