BkMk Press contest winner book covers

Prize names and deadline

contest winners photos

Above: 2015 Poetry winner Bonnie Bolling; 2014 Poetry winner Wendy Barker; 2014 Fiction winner Lenore Myka; 2015 Fiction winner Rachel Hall

Congratulations to the 2016 John Ciardi Prize for Poetry winner, Henrietta Goodman of Missoula, Montana for her manuscript, All That Held Them. Poetry judge: Kate Daniels.

Congratulations to the 2016 G. S. Sharat Chandra Prize for Short Fiction winner, Doug Ramspeck of Lima, Ohio for his manuscript, The Owl That Carries Us Away. Fiction judge: Billy Lombardo.


Judging is underway for the 2017 contest.
The 2018 contest is now open.


Ciardi- and Chandra-winning books have gone on to receive reviews or features in such venues as:

Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Reviews, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Kansas City Star, Slate, Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac, etc.

and won or placed in such awards as:

the Poets’ Prize, Eric Hoffer, IPPY, ForeWord, Chautauqua longlist, Balcones Fiction, Devil’s Kitchen, Midland Authors, Towson Prize of Maryland, etc.

Click here for a list of past winners and judges.


Please read guidelines below before submitting.

Submissions should include:
  • Typed manuscript on standard-sized paper, bound only with a clip or rubberband (no staples or permanent binding). Or 1 MS Word document or PDF. In English.
  • Poetry manuscripts: approximately 50-110 pages, single spaced.
  • Short fiction collections: approximately 125-300 pages, double spaced.
  • Two title pages within the manuscript (not as a separate file): (click here for samples)
    a) title only (no author information)
    b) title, author name, address, phone number, email
  • Table of Contents within the manuscript (not as a separate file).
  • SASE for notification regarding winner. No manuscripts will be returned.
  • Non-refundable entry fee of $25 (plus $5 processing fee for each manuscript submitted electronically) (US funds).
  • Uploaded files should have the same name as the manuscript

Mail to:
John Ciardi Prize for Poetry or Sharat Chandra Prize for Fiction 
BkMk Press
5101 Rockhill Road
University of Missouri-Kansas City 
Kansas City, MO 64110

Manuscripts must be postmarked or submitted online no later than January 17, 2018.

  • No faxed or emailed submissions, please.
  • Simultaneous and multiple submissions are acceptable. Please notify us of acceptance elsewhere.
  • Current students and employees of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and current volunteer members of the New Letters and BkMk Press staffs, are not eligible.
  • Manuscripts will not be returned. No refunds will be issued.

Email bkmk@umkc.edu with questions or concerns. Or call 816-235-2558.

Judging will be blind at all levels. Initial judging will be done by a network of published writers and editors. The final judging will be done by a poet and a fiction writer of national reputation. 2017 winners will be announced August, 2017 and the winning entries will be published in 2018. These competitions are held annually.

BkMk Press supports the CLMP Code of Ethics for literary contests.

Entrants will receive a copy of the winning book in their genre when it is published.


Kansas City Literary Events

Lauren Hunter & Erica Lewis

Saturday, August 26, 2017
Kansas City, Mo.


Tracy K. Smith has been named the next U.S. Poet Laureate!

Hear poetry from her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Life on Mars, on the New Letters on the Air half-hour show or a short excerpt on KCUR before she was in Kansas City last year. Find out more about our new ambassador for poetry from NPR.


Clarion Awards Selection CD Special

Jamaica KincaidJim ShepardGloria Vando & Anika ParisLuis Alberto Urrea, and Alex George, normally $7.99 per episode, this cd collection comes with over $15.00 in savings. Downloads of these programs have been reduced and are available through our archives.