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10th Annual Split This Rock Poetry Contest

Each year, Split This Rock sponsors a national poetry contest, which serves to raise the visibility and prestige of poetry of provocation and witness. Winning poems are published on Split This Rock's website and within The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database. The 2017 Poetry Contest is now OPEN.

Contest Judge: Sheila Black

Photo of Sheila Black. A white woman with a slight smile_ fairly short brown hair_ and her head resting on her left hand_ sits in front of an orange wall with art in a green frame on it. She wears a brown and tan checkered dress and a brown beaded necklace.








Benefits Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness 2018

$1,000 in prizes awarded for poems of provocation & witness!

DEADLINE: November 1, 2016


PRIZES: First place $500; 2nd and 3rd place, $250 each. Winning poems will be published on Split This Rock's website and within The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database. All prize winners will receive free festival registration, and the 1st place recipient will be invited to read the winning poem on the main stage at Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2018.

READING FEE: $20, which supports Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2018.

About the Judge

Sheila Black is the author of House of Bone, Love/Iraq (both CW Press), Wen Kroy (Dream Horse Press), and Iron, Ardent, forthcoming from Educe Press in 2017.  She is a co-editor with Jennifer Bartlett and Michael Northen of Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press), named a 2012 Notable Book for Adults by the American Library Association.  A 2012 Witter Bynner Fellow, selected by Philip Levine, she lives in San Antonio, Texas where she directs Gemini Ink, a literary arts center.

Sheila was a featured poet at Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2014 and a poem from her reading can be viewed on Split This Rock's YouTube Channel.

Read our interview with Judge Sheila Black on Split This Rock's blog!


THEMES: Submissions should be in the spirit of Split This Rock: socially engaged poems, poems that reach beyond the self to connect with the larger community or world; poems of provocation and witness. This theme can be interpreted broadly and may include but is not limited to work addressing politics, economics, government, war, leadership; issues of identity (gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, disability, socioeconomic class, body image, immigration, heritage, etc.); community, civic engagement, education, activism; and poems about history, Americana, cultural icons. Visit the 2016 Poetry Contest page and the Past Poetry Contests page to read past winning poems. All contest winning poems are also available in The Quarry.

Split This Rock subscribes to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics. Read it online at our website.

ACCESSIBILITY: If Submittable is not accessible to you, please contact us at or (202) 787-5210 for instructions on how to email your submission to us. It is important that we know about your situation before receiving your mailed or emailed entry. Please allow sufficient time for your submission to be received.

Submission Guidelines:

Submissions need to be received by 11:59pm on November 1, 2016, Eastern Standard Time.

Submit up to 3 unpublished poems, no more than 6 pages total, no more than 1 poem per page, in any style, in the spirit of Split This Rock (see above). Visit Split This Rock's Submittable page for instructions.

What we mean by “unpublished”: We accept only poems that have not yet been included in a publication with an ISBN number or online via a juried journal or website. If your poem is selected and it is posted on social media, we ask that you take it down prior to our publishing contest results.

We read blind. Please do not put your name or contact information on the document you upload to Submittable or within its title or your poems will be in jeopardy of being disqualified.

Simultaneous submissions are OK, but please notify us immediately if the poem is accepted elsewhere.

Close friends, relatives, students, and former students of the judge are excluded from the contest. Likewise, the current Board of Directors, staff, teaching artists, and DC Slam Team of Split This Rock are excluded, as are members of their immediate families. (For more detail: visit the code of ethics on our website.)

Mailed and Emailed Submissions: Except for special circumstances we are aware of in advance, we do not accept mailed or emailed submissions.

We encourage you to submit before the November 1 deadline so that if you encounter problems we can assist you.

Late entries will not be accepted.

Once decisions have been made, you will receive an email notifying you of the status of your submission. We do not send hard copy notifications or accept self addressed stamped envelopes. Please monitor Split This Rock’s website and Facebook page for updates on the contest if for some reason you have trouble receiving emails.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: | (202) 787-5210 |