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.