The Backwaters Prize in Poetry

The Backwaters Prize in Poetry submission period is April 1 – May 1.

The winner will be awarded a $2,000 cash prize and the honorable mention will be awarded a $1,000 cash prize. Both winners will be awarded the publication of their book by the University of Nebraska Press under its imprint, The Backwaters Press. The judge for the 2024 contest is Tomás Q. Morín.

Zero Street Fiction

Submissions to the series are accepted annually November 1 – April 1.

Zero Street invites submissions of novels and short story collections, from LGBTQ+ authors new and established, that feature LGBTQ+ characters and/or themes. We are particularly interested in BIPOC authors, trans authors, and queer authors over 50. Zero Street is committed to literary fiction with commercial potential, and to providing marginalized authors opportunities for a wide readership in the trade fiction market. We are seeking literary fiction of all kinds, from stories of modern life to innovations on traditions of genre.

Submissions must include the full manuscript, working title, brief description (max 250 words), type of submission, short biographical statement, and email address.

Submissions for literary translations must include the original and translated title, brief description, biographical statements for both author and translator, sample translation (15-20 pages uploaded under "Full Manuscript"), original publisher information and English language rights availability, and email address.

Zero Street Fiction submissions must be submitted separately via this link.

We publish contemporary poetry in established series only. Please refer to our submission guidelines for more information.




  • The manuscript must be in English and should be between 60 and 85 typewritten pages (not including credits or other frontmatter or backmatter material) in Times New Roman, 12-point font. Do not include illustrations in the manuscript.
  • The poetry must be original and may be either a collection or a single long poem. No collaborations or translations will be considered.
  • Submitted manuscripts may not have been published previously in any form, whether in print or online. Individual poems may have been printed in magazines, journals, or anthologies, but 95% or more of the manuscript must not have been published together in book form. However, poems previously published together in chapbooks may be collected together into a single manuscript. The contest winners must be able to obtain permission to republish previously published works if the copyright has not been retained.

  • Do not include identification of the author in the manuscript, including the title page. Manuscripts in which the poet’s name is included anywhere in the text will be disqualified. If the author needs to refer to, or use their own name in a poem(s), a pseudonym must be used. The author will be able to restore their name to the text if the manuscript is chosen for publication.
  • Do not include an acknowledgements page or list of previously published works. The author may add this material if the manuscript is chosen for publication.
  • Simultaneous submissions are accepted. If the manuscript is accepted elsewhere, the University of Nebraska Press must be notified immediately and the manuscript withdrawn from consideration. Entry fees will not be returned due to withdrawals.
  • All manuscripts must be submitted electronically via Submittable.
  • There is an entry fee of $32 per manuscript. More than one manuscript may be submitted; the entry fee must be paid for each submission. Entry fees will not be returned.
  • Do not send manuscript corrections. The winner and honorable mention will be allowed to make manuscript changes before publication.
  • Persons associated with the University of Nebraska Press or The Backwaters Press may not submit a manuscript to the contest.
  • Please contact Courtney Ochsner at the University of Nebraska Press with any questions regarding the contest at