The Black Spring Press Group, based in London, England, celebrates a 39th anniversary this year. We have published Leonard Cohen, Orson Welles, Carolyn Cassady, Anais Nin, Paul Muldoon and Jan Owen, among others. We are made up of several long-running imprints: Eyewear, Black Spring, Maida Vale and Dexter Haven. We are accepting new work through all our 2023 submission channels. 

The competition is open to anyone 18 OR OVER who wants to write in the English-language and has an interest in crime, thriller or mystery novels. Writers can enter as many times as they want.

We are looking for the best 50-200 words of an ‘opening’ for a crime-mystery-thriller novel. The work must be never-before-published (including online), original to the author, and ideally written for this prize. It need not be connected to a completed book. Indeed, we very much hope the prize encourages people to start a novel, with this first page – and maybe go on to complete it. 

The contest will open on September 7th 2023 and close on December 7th 2023. All submission info can be found at the website; the entry fee will be £10. Lee Child - 100 million selling world-famous author of the Jack Reacher series of books - will read and judge the best final 50 entries, and leading crime writer Luca Veste will be the sifting judge for the first stage of the competition.

Lee Child says, ‘Long ago people would say, “This is a great book, but you need to give it fifty pages.” That's crazy now, in our hyper-fast world. Now readers give you fifty words. Your first paragraph, basically. That's where you win or lose. It doesn't always need to be slam-bam, but it does always need to give the reader absolutely no choice but to race ahead. Send your entry in to Black Spring's contest, I’ll judge the best... and if you win, I'll be first in line to buy your book.’

The winner will be announced in early 2024, receive £200, a one-off, hour-long online mentoring session with Luca Veste and be offered a publishing contract if they ever decide to complete the novel. All longlisted, shortlisted, and winning entrants agree to let their submitted work, biography and photo be included in any publicity organised by the press.

The Black Spring Crime Series was recently endorsed by, among others, giants of crime Val McDermid, Ian Rankin, Child, and Mark Billingham.

Note that immediate family members of those on the BSPG team, and the team themselves, are ineligible to enter. The contest may be cancelled at the discretion of the organisers for any reason at any time; all monies will be refunded. Should any of the judges be unavailable due to force majeure other judges of equal calibre will step in.


Any poem, published or unpublished, originally written in English by one author, and first published and/or written between January 1 2010 and December 31, 2020, is eligible for submission. Poets from any country are welcome, but must be aged 18 or over by time of entry.

The top 100 poems (by different poets) will be selected and included in an anthology to be published including a bio page for each poet, and will be sold in the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada and elsewhere where possible.

Each Submission may include up to five poems.

This is not a blind competition, so add bio note and contact details with publishing credits for the poems, please.

Poems can be up to 120 lines long; must be submitted as word or pdf docs; single-spaced, 12-font and Arial or times new roman, preferably, with stanza breaks across multiple pages marked.

Judges will be the editorial team at our publishing imprints and companies.

We are open to all forms, styles, genres, and poetics, from the most traditional to the most experimental, and will seek to adjudicate on the terms on which the texts are offered, except insofar as the poems must be texts (not multimedia or recorded only, but somehow inscribed). We seek to impose no uniform or dominant critical perspective.

In the unlikely eventuality we receive insufficient submissions, we will cancel the competition and return all entries.

No current Eyewear employee, or student or close family member of any of the judges will be eligible.


THE JACK SWIFT BEST 'IRISH WRITERS AND POETS' PRIZE 2021-23 is a new writing prize aimed at celebrating and discovering talented writers and poets who consider themselves, in some way, Irish. The judge will be a respected poet or writer. The prize will be inclusion in an internationally-published paperback edition by Black Spring Press (founded 1985) that will never include more than a tenth of submitted works. The top prize will be a thousand US dollars and a book deal.

The judge: Frank Dullaghan is an Irish writer who has lived in Ireland, UK, UAE, and Malaysia. He has four collections of poetry published by Cinnamon Press and a pamphlet, Secrets of the Body, a series of poems about the mythical Pope Joan, published by Eyewear Publishing. His fifth collection, In the Coming of Winter, is due out from Cinnamon in Autumn 2021. Frank holds an MA with Distinction in Writing from the University of South Wales. Before moving to Dubai in 2006, Frank was a co-founder of the Essex Poetry Festival and the editor of Seam, poetry magazine for many years.

Frank's screenplay for the short film Melody, featured in the best short films at the Dubai 48 hour film competition in 2012 and won the audience award at the Mumbai Womens International Film Festival. He also had short stage plays performed regularly in Dubai while he lived there. His short story, A Place of Grace, was shortlisted in the London Magazine Short Story Competition 2017. He has two novels in draft form and is currently working on a screen play for one of them.

The prize is named after the Quebec-born Irish-Canadian wit, bon vivant, writer and McGill law graduate Jack Swift.


1. Any person 18 years or older.

2. The author must be living at time of entry.

3. Any person who considers themselves to be Irish is eligible to enter, including but not limited to: persons with an Irish or Northern Irish birth certificate, passport or other form of identity papers; Irish adoptive or birthparents, or grand-parents; anyone currently resident in, or studying in, Ireland. Anyone resident anywhere in the world who considers themselves part of the Irish diaspora. The prize runners do not intend to adjudicate who is or is not Irish, and we will accept all reasonable claims, outside of the clearly satirical or fanciful.

4. The work submitted can have been previously published but copyright must remain with the author.

5. The author must be the sole and original author.

6. No illustrations or other non-textual material should be included.

7. Any form of writing may be submitted by word doc or pdf in the shorter forms - stories of 10,000 words or less; poems of 100 lines or less; brief monologues of five minutes running or less (can be excerpted from longer plays or screenplays). No novels or novellas or full collections, please.

8. For the purposes of submission, no aliases or pseudonyms - this does not relate to publishing terms. The entrant cannot be a current or former employee of the press or judge, or a close relative of the judge or any employee of the press. Those previously or currently published by the press ARE eligible. This is not a 'blind' contest in order to guarantee submission ethics guidelines are followed.

9. The small entry fee is to be used ONLY to cover the costs of the prize, including its administration, and payment for prizes and judging fees, as well as to help raise funds for the small indie press, Black Spring, following several months when almost all Irish and UK bookstores have been closed.

10. Payment of an entry fee in no way leads to automatic inclusion or acceptance in any book.

11. The judge's decisions are final.

12. The contest can be closed without notice at any time due to lack of sufficient entrants; and all money returned within 60 days to entrants.


The Sexton Prize is a bi-annual publication award with a $2,000 prize for an outstanding new collection of poetry by an American poet.

The winning manuscript will be published by Black Spring Press in the United Kingdom, and distributed in the United States,  and the United Kingdom and Ireland, in the publishing year of 2024-5 We will enter it into all eligible prizes and send it for review widely.

The Sexton Prize is open to poets at all career stages, from emerging to established; poets of every age 18 and over and level of publication experience are encouraged to submit. Finalists will also be considered for publication

The final judge for the 2022-23 Sexton Prize is RODNEY JONES.

Rodney Jones studied at the University of Alabama and the University of North Carolina, where he earned his MFA. Other books of poetry include The Unborn (1984), which received the Lavan Younger Poets Award; Transparent Gestures (1989), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award; Apocalyptic Narrative and Other Poems (1993); Things That Happen Once: New Poems (1996); Kingdom of the Instant (2002);  Imaginary Logic (2011), and Village Prodigies (2017). His many honours and awards include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He received the Harper Lee Award in 2003 and the prestigious Kingsley-Tufts Award in 2007. Celebrated for his rigorous, thoughtful, and yet accessible style, Jones has earned high praise throughout his career. Robert Wrigley called him “a poet whose work is intellectually sparkling and at the same time beautifully readable.” In Poetry critic David Baker noted how Jones makes clear that there is a paradox in that “our history, our lives, and our language are better described as a field of ruptures, dissociations, and misrepresentations than as a linear or narrative continuum.” Baker went on to call him “one of the best, most generous, and most brilliantly readable poets currently making poems in America.”

Jones lives in New Orleans and teaches in the Warren Wilson College MFA program.  His full bio can be found here:
Rodney Jones | Poetry Foundation


 • Submissions must be made via our Submittable page. The fee to submit is $35.
 • Manuscripts must be original work, between 48 and 120 pages in length, by a single author, in the English language, single-spaced and with 12 font size Arial or Times New Roman. There are no restrictions on style or subject matter. Our press encourages writers from diverse backgrounds to submit their work.
 • Individual poems in the submission may have been previously published online, in periodicals, or in chapbooks, but the collection as a whole must not have been previously published (self-publishing constitutes prior publication).
 • Submissions should be made without the inclusion of an acknowledgments page, as the judge will not consider this information. No anonymous submissions can be made.

The Sexton Prize is open to poets who either reside in the United States of America, or who will be residing there for at least a year, as of 2021. The Prize is open to American citizens as well as residents holding legal permission, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival, Temporary Protected, and Legal Permanent (“green card”), among others.

Code of Ethics
 • All entries will be screened by the Black Spring Books editorial team; we will not use students or interns to screen submissions. A meaningful shortlist of at least ten poetry collections will be sent to the Final Judge. A longlist and shortlist may be made public.
 • Close friends, employees, family members, and current students of the final judge are not eligible to submit to The Sexton Prize.
 • The Sexton Prize takes its name from the church office of the sexton: a custodian of sacred objects and a ringer of bells that call communities to gather. It’s our mission in The Sexton Prize to be caretakers of literary talent in our time, and to sound the call for international literary communities to come together in the celebration of poetry.
Eyewear reserves the right to terminate this competition at any time, for any reason, without fault; any submissions will be reimbursed in full upon cancellation. We cannot enter into correspondence unless and until your collection is selected. We reserve the right to extend the deadline if insufficient entries have been received.

Note, if selected to be the winner, the submitting contestant must accept the prize.


The Best New British and Irish Poets competition collects poems from the best new poets in the UK and Ireland. It is based on a similar and well-known US prize anthology. Each judge is free to decide what 'best' means for them. The judge's selected poems will be published in The Best New British and Irish Poets anthology in 2022, following the anthologies from 2016 to 2021.

Judges: Amira Ghanim & Nesa Fayz

Eligibility: poets resident in the UK or Ireland, regardless of nationality, as well as passport holders from the UK or Ireland who live abroad, are eligible to submit work for consideration if they have not yet published (and are not under contract to publish at time of entry) a full-length collection of poetry. Poets who have published pamphlets are eligible to compete as are poets included in previous editions of the anthology.  It is now past time in the UK to celebrate and promote the true diversity of British poetry, and as a press we are constantly studying, reading, listening, learning, and discussing, as we aim to always grow, do better, and be the best we could hope to be.

Guidelines: submit original poems in the English language for consideration. Poems may have appeared before in print periodicals, journals, or magazines, and even in online venues. Please include any prior publication information for each submitted poem in your cover letter. Your cover letter should also include a brief biographical note with your contact details. Do not include your name on your poems.

READING FEE: Because we need to pay a judge/editor to read all the submissions, and their time is worth respecting with a small fee, we will be charging 5 pounds per poem submitted. We hope this will not be a barrier to submission. If any one wishes to submit, and cannot afford this small payment, they may contact us at info @ so we can offer them an alternative option. This small fee is not used to make any profit by our company. The Submittable platform takes a percentage so this leaves us with 3.76 per poem. We note that many presses and poetry contests, including the National Poetry competition charge reasonable entry fees.

The Black Spring Press Group