The 2015 contest is now closed for submissions. Thank you to everyone who sent in manuscripts, and make sure to check out our past winners and other authors in the Button Shop!
Prize: The winner will receive publication, 50 free author copies, a $500 honorarium, and round-trip travel to Minneapolis for a book release show to be filmed by Button’s video crew. All finalists will be considered for publication and will be invited to perform at a Button show in Minneapolis, though only the winner is guaranteed paid travel.
Entry Fee: $15; all entrants will receive 15% off any purchase at the Button Shop.
Timeline: The contest will open on July 15th and close at 11:59 PM CST on AUGUST 31ST!
Eligibility: The competition is open to all previously unpublished, chapbook-length manuscripts of poetry (loosely defined) written in English, regardless of the age, nationality, etc. of the author(s). Manuscripts that contain previously published poems are eligible, so long as the manuscript is unpublished as a collection.
What We Like: We value energy and voice and force, work that crosses borders or effaces them completely, work that enters into larger social conversations, work that lives in the world, work with calloused hands and a half-empty stomach. We think poetry is and ought to be part of our everyday lives and culture.
Past Winners: 2012 Winner me Aunt Jemima and the nailgun. (Aziza Barnes), 2013 Winner Highway or Belief (J. Scott Brownlee), 2014 Winner black movie (Danez Smith), and the rest of our chapbooks are available here.
Guidelines: Submit a previously unpublished, chapbook-length (20-30 pages) manuscript of poetry using our online submission manager. The manuscript, in one PDF file, should include: a title page with the title of the book only (no contact or identifying information about the author), a table of contents page, and the text itself.
Include, in the Cover Letter section of our submission manager only, a brief letter with the title of your work and your contact info, as well as a brief bio. Your name and contact information SHOULD NOT appear anywhere in the manuscript–we only want your name in the Cover Letter section itself. (Note: If your name appears in a poem, change it / falsify it / cut the poem—if your name appears anywhere in the manuscript, your entry will be disqualified.)
No more than one poem per page (poems longer than one page are fine, though); use a legible, 12-point font like Times New Roman or Garamond.
We are unable to consider revised versions of manuscripts during the contest, though the winner will have the opportunity to revise before publication.
Multiple submissions by the same poet are fine, but you must pay a $15 entry fee for each submission.
Simultaneous submissions are also fine, but please let us know immediately if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere.
Co-authored manuscripts are fine, too. Fine, fine, fine.
Process: The Editors of Button Poetry / Exploding Pinecone Press will read all submissions blindly to ensure the maximum level of fairness and select 8-12 finalists. The finalists will then be forwarded to the Final Judge, Adrian Matejka, who will select the winner. All finalists will be considered by the Editors for publication.
Final Judge: Adrian Matejka’s first collection of poems, The Devil’s Garden, won the 2002 New York / New England Award from Alice James Books. His second collection, Mixology, was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series and was published by Penguin Books in 2009. Mixology was a finalist for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature – Poetry. His most recent book,The Big Smoke, was awarded the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The Big Smoke was also a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award, the 2014 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the 2014 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. He is a winner of the Julia Peterkin Award, the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Award, two grants from the Illinois Arts Council, and fellowships from Cave Canem, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Lannan Foundation. He is the Lilly Professor / Poet-in-Residence at Indiana University in Bloomington and is currently working on a new collection of poems and a graphic novel.