Established in 1978 to recognize and promote excellence in contemporary poetry by ensuring the publication of five books of poetry a year through a series of participating publishers. Five distinguished poets will each select one winning manuscript for publication from entries to the Open Competition. Each winner will receive $10,000.

Announcing 2012 Open Competition Guidelines

2012 Open Competition Guidelines

The National Poetry Series was established in 1978 to ensure the publication of five books of poetry each year. Winning manuscripts are selected through an annual open competition, judged by five distinguished poets. Each winning poet receives a $1,000 cash award in addition to having his or her manuscript published by a participating trade, university, or small press publisher. Publishers currently include HarperCollins Publishers, Fence Books, University of Georgia Press, Penguin Books, and Milkweed Editions.  Recent judges have included John Ashbery, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lucie Brock-Broido, Ilya Kaminsky, Campbell McGrath, Patricia Smith, and D.A. Powell. Among the list of more than 150 esteemed NPS winners are award-winning poets Billy Collins, Stephen Dunn, Mark Doty, Marie Howe, Nathaniel Mackey, Naomi Shihab Nye, Eleni Sikelianos, and Terrance Hayes. 

The National Poetry Series seeks book-length manuscripts of poetry written by American citizens. All manuscripts must be previously unpublished in their complete form, although some or all of the individual poems may have appeared in periodicals. Translations, chapbooks, small groups of poems, and books previously self-published are not eligible. Manuscript length is not limited. However, a length of 48-64 pages is suggested.

Manuscripts, accompanied by an entrance fee of $30.00 (per manuscript) made payable to The National Poetry Series, will be accepted at The National Poetry Series, 57 Mountain Avenue, Princeton, NJ,  08540, with a postmark of January 1 through (and including) February 15, 2012.

Manuscripts must include 2 cover pages:
One page should list title of manuscript, author’s name, address, and telephone number. 
   This should be the only page with author’s identification.
One page should list title of manuscript only.

Manuscripts must be:
Typed on standard white paper, on one side of the page only.
Paginated (include a table of contents).
Bound only by a clip as more permanent bindings are very difficult to handle!

DO NOT INCLUDE: Acknowledgments, explanatory statements, resumes, autobiographical statements, photographs, illustrations, or artwork. These will not be considered.

We regret that manuscripts cannot be returned.
No additions, deletions, or substitutions once a manuscript has been submitted.
Entrants should inform NPS immediately if their manuscript is selected for
publication elsewhere.

Finalists will be notified and asked to submit five (5) additional copies of their original submission.

Winning authors will be given the opportunity to make final changes prior to publication.

Please include a Self-Addressed Stamped Postcard if you would like confirmation that your manuscript has been received. Include a SASE if you would like notification of the NPS winners (announced in August).

Please visit The National Poetry Series web site: for general updates throughout the competition.

If you require any additional information, write to the Coordinator,
                                NPS, 57 Mountain Avenue, Princeton, NJ  08540.