The Second Berfrois Poetry Prize


Chariot Race, Alexander von Wagner, 1893

UPDATED: December 22nd, 2016.

The deadline for submissions has now been extended to December 31st, 2016.

From the editors:

“In a dark time, the eye begins to see…” Theodore Roethke  

In light of the worldwide shock and dismay at the recent Brexit vote, and the dire, far-reaching consequences of the American presidential election, the Berfrois Poetry Prize will this year focus on original poems exploring political themes, or literature as an act of resistance against the growing cultures of racism, misogyny, persecution of religious groups, and economic inequality. We invite you to explore these subjects as broadly or in as focused a manner as the poems require. But as artists and citizens, we believe we have a duty to capture this moment for posterity, and to raise up our poems in protest.


Berfrois is delighted to announce that the Berfrois Poetry Prize is back.

Between now and 11:59:59 pm GMT on Saturday, 31st December 2016, poets may submit to Berfrois, using its online submission manager, a single, original, poem which is not a translation, but may be in any mode or form, up to 300 lines. Entrants may be from, or living, anywhere in the world, but poems must be in English (or in dialects, pidgins, and creoles that may be understood by readers of English). Limited to one submission per author. Submissions may be made here.

Simultaneous submission to other contests or to journals is encouraged, but if a poem is accepted for publication or chosen for an award by another journal or contest, Berfrois requests that poets use its submission manager to withdraw that poem immediately. Once a poem is submitted, no changes may be made to it, and the editors of Berfrois will not enter into any correspondence regarding submissions under consideration for its poetry prize.

By midnight on 8 January 2017, Berfrois will have read all the submissions and selected poems by ten finalists for a shortlist. These ten poems will be published on Berfrois during the first few weeks of January 2017. Berfrois may suggest that the writers of the shortlisted poems make changes to these poems before posting.

The writers of the ten shortlisted poems will be given one week, until midnight on 15 January 2016, to submit four more poems each. In the last two weeks of January, Berfrois will read each of the shortlisted five-poem portfolios and select a Poetry Prize winner.

Berfrois will announce the winner of the Berfrois Poetry Prize on 1 February 2017. The winning poet will be awarded a small cash prize. The winning portfolio of five poems will be published on Berfrois with an introduction by final-round judge Erin Belieu. Berfrois may suggest minor editorial changes be made to this portfolio prior to posting.

The shortlist will be selected from all entries by Erik Kennedy, poetry editor of Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Berfrois’s sister site.

The final selection of a winning portfolio will be done by Erin Belieu, author of four books of poems: Infanta (1995), One Above, One Below (2000), Black Box (2006), and Slant Six (2014), all from Copper Canyon Press. Belieu is a co-founder of VIDA: Women in the Literary Arts, and she directs the Creative Writing Program at Florida State University.