Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize

Wheelbarrow Books, established in 2016, is an imprint of the RCAH Center for Poetry at MSU, published and distributed by the MSU Press.


The Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize is a biannual poetry contest, awarding $1,000 and book publication to one established poet, and one new poet annually.

Submissions are now open for the 2018 prize, open to authors of at least one full-length collection of poetry.







• Manuscripts are eligible for the Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize if the author has published at least one full-length collection of original poetry in English (of 48 pages or more with a press run of at least 500 copies). This competition is not open to first books. Translations are not eligible.

• Current faculty, staff, and students of Michigan State University are not eligible to submit their work.

• Multiple submissions are welcome and simultaneous submissions are acceptable (please inform us if the manuscript is accepted elsewhere).

• The Center for Poetry in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at MSU reserves the right to consider all entrants for publication; a list of winners and finalists will be posted on the Center for Poetry website (poetry.rcah.msu.edu) in early February 2018 after the winning author is notified.

• Publication is contingent upon the poet’s agreeing to the terms of the publishing agreement.


Rules and Submission Guidelines


• Manuscripts must be in English and a minimum 64 pages.

• Manuscripts must be typed in a 12-point font.

• Manuscripts must be accompanied by two title pages: one with the title of the collection, the author’s name, address, email address, and telephone number; and one with only the title. Manuscripts will not be returned.

• Submitted poems may have appeared previously in journals, anthologies, or chapbooks, but the collection as a whole must be previously unpublished.

• Manuscripts must be postmarked between April 1, 2017 and October 1, 2017. Early submissions are encouraged. For proof of receipt, send the manuscript using a delivery confirmation service.

• Include the nonrefundable reading fee of $25 as a check or money order payable to Michigan State University. Please include “Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize” on the memo line.

• The postmark deadline for submission is October 1, 2017. Send manuscripts to:


Wheelbarrow Books Poetry Prize

RCAH Center for Poetry

362 Bogue St., Room C210

East Lansing, MI  48825





2016 Wheelbarrow Books Prize for Poetry
















2016 Finalists

                 Carol Barrett for Alchemy of Breath                    Donald Levering for Long Past the Last Stop


             Ruth Moon Kempher for Backwater News               Robert Miltner for Orpheus and Echo


Congratulations to Cortney Davis, winner of the 2016 Wheelbarrow Prize for Poetry for her collection, Taking Care of Time. Selected by judge Naomi Shihab Nye, Taking Care of Time will be published by the MSU Press in 2018. Cortney Davis, a nurse practitioner, is the author of Leopold's Maneuvers (University of Nebraska Press), winner of the Prairie Schooner Poetry Prize; Details of Flesh (Calyx Books); three poetry chapbooks; two works of nonfiction, and two anthologies (as co-editor). Her poems have appeared nationally and internationally in journals including Poetry, Hudson Review, Crazyhorse, Poetry East, Rattle, and others.

"Davis' skills as a nurse practitioner and her unflinching to-the-bone gifts as a writer mix eloquently to create a manuscript that will grip and compel readers," writes Naomi Shihab Nye. "A great book, not to be missed. It was an honor to select Taking Care of Time for the first Wheelbarrow Books prize."



Call us: (517) 884-1932  | Contact Information


Call MSU: (517) 355-1855 | Visit: msu.edu | MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer.

SPARTANS WILL. © Michigan State University