Awarded Annually to an Emerging Writer

The award: $1,000 goes to the winner of the Furious Flower Poetry Prize, and an honorable mention receives $500. The poets are featured during a public reading at James Madison University on April 10, 2018. (Accommodations and a $500 honorarium are also provided.) In addition, the award-winning poems will be published in Obsidiana publication of Illinois State.

Marilyn Nelson, 2018 Furious Flower Poetry Prize judge

The judge: Marilyn Nelson (pictured right, photo by Curt Richter), lauded author or translator of more than 24 books, is a professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut, was founder/director and host of Soul Mountain Retreat, and held the office of Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001 to 2006. She was awarded the 2012 Frost Medal, the Poetry Society of America’s most prestigious award, and the Furious Flower Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014. In January 2013 she was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. Her latest collection for young adults is How I Discovered Poetry (Dial, 2014), a memoir in verse.

Winners will be notified in mid-March 2018.

Guidelines and Eligibility

  • The prize is open to poets who have published no more than one collection of poetry (excluding self-published collections and chapbooks).
  • Submissions should include a group of 3 unpublished poems, not to exceed 6 pages.
  • To facilitate blind judging, manuscripts must not include the poet’s name or other identifying or contact information anywhere on the manuscript.
  • Simultaneous submissions will not be accepted.
  • All submissions must be made electronically by February 11, 2018. Please note that only PDFs will be accepted. Do not submit Word documents or other formats.
  • By submitting an application, poets agree to read at James Madison University on April 10, 2018 if they are chosen. If the winner or honorable mention is unable to attend, s/he will forfeit the prize and another poet will be named.
  • Non-refundable submission fee: $15.
  • Faculty, staff, and students of James Madison University are not eligible for this prize.
  • Although you do not have to be a U.S. citizen to enter, JMU is constrained by the rules and regulations of the IRS; nonresidents who don’t satisfy the criteria for legal payment are not eligible.
  • Submissions failing to comply with these guidelines will be disqualified.


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