Named for the distinguished poet who taught for many years at Ohio University and made Athens, Ohio, the subject of many of his poems, this competition invites writers to submit unpublished collections of original poems.

The competition is open to both those who have not published a book-length collection and those who have.

The general editor of the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize is David Sanders.

Submission Period

Manuscripts must be postmarked or uploaded to submittable.com by December 1. Those postmarked later will be returned unread.

Format

Manuscripts of 60 to 95 pages should be set on standard sized paper. Name, address, and phone number should appear on the title page. Acknowledgments should appear on a separate page. Individual collections must be the work of a single author. Translations are not accepted. Manuscripts should be submitted in final form; revisions or emendations to acknowledgments will not be considered during the contest. Multiple submissions to other publishers are acceptable provided we are informed if the manuscript is accepted elsewhere.

Entry Fee

There is a $30 fee per entry to help defray administrative costs. For mailed submissions, please make checks payable to Ohio University Press.

Judging

The final judge for the competition will be named when the winner is announced in April. Individual criticism of manuscripts cannot be given.

Prize

The winning manuscript will be published by Ohio University Press the following year and will be awarded a cash prize of $1000.

Manuscript Submission

Manuscripts must be postmarked or uploaded to submittable.com by December 1. Those postmarked later will be returned unread.

Snail mail submissions should be sent to:

Ohio University Press
Attn.: Hollis Summers Poetry Prize
31 South Court Street, Suite 143
Athens, OH 45701.

Online entries can be submitted at
ohiouniversitypress.submittable.com.

Penumbra—Michael Shewmaker’s debut collection—explores the half-shadows of a world torn between faith and doubt. From intricate descriptions of the rooms in a dollhouse, to the stark depiction of a chapel made of bones, from pre-elegies for a ghostly father, to his compelling treatment of his obsessed, human characters (a pastor, a tattoo artist, a sleepwalker, to name only a few), these are poems that wrestle with what it means to believe in something beyond one’s own mortality.

In Animal Purpose, Michelle Y. Burke explores the lives of men and women as they stand poised between the desire to love and the compulsion to harm. She scours the hard edges of the world to find “fleeting softness,” which she wishes “into the world like pollen that covers everything.”

In The Surface of the Lit World, Shane Seely draws on a wide range of sources — from personal memory to biblical narrative — to explore the stories that we tell ourselves about ourselves, the ways in which we make meaning of our lives. Seely delves into the ways in which family and environment shape us. Poems ranging from terse, meditative lyrics to more direct narratives examine the relationship between what lies visible on the lit surface and what lies just beneath.

On the Desire to Levitate is the first collection of poems by Alison Powell. This striking collection includes vivid, unflinching meditations on aging, mythology, poetry, and family. In tight, elegant lines that alternate between homage and elegy, these poems explore known subjects with a rebellious eye: a defeated Hercules and a bitter Eurydice, a sympathetic Lucifer, and generations of adolescent girls as mythical adventurers moving within a beloved but confining Midwest.

Gravel and Hawk dwells on the physical and cultural landscapes of the Texarkana border region, an area of stark natural beauty and even starker manifestations of its human habitation: oil derricks and pump jacks, logging trucks, chicken houses, come-to-Jesus billboards, and greasy catfish joints, a patchwork of dying farm towns and ragtag municipalities laced together by county roads, state highways, and that treacherous, rust-hued slurry known as the Red River.

Stephen Kampa’s poems are witty and restless in their pursuit of an intelligent modern faith. They range from a four-line satire of office inspirational posters to a lengthy meditation on the silence of God.

To take the mess of life and make meaning from it is what all poets seek to do. For Will Wells, recipient of the thirteenth annual Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, this includes reaching across centuries and continents, into the minds and hearts of disparate individuals—Albert Einstein, Andrea Yates, the traveler from Porlock, Dante, or Holocaust survivors, including his own grandmother—to extract the personal value embedded there for him.

Photographing Eden presents the first full-length collection of poems by a major new talent. The work meditates on several ideas, the crux of which is Eden: spirituality, environmentalism, and the relationships between men and women. Observing, often through the lens of a camera, our state in the world, the poems try to focus sharply on what often seems a blur.

Dear Regime

Letters to the Islamic Republic

By Roger Sedarat

In his provocative, brave, and sometimes brutal first book of poems, Roger Sedarat directly addresses the possibility of political change in a nation that some in America consider part of “the axis of evil.” Iranian on his father’s side, Sedarat explores the effects of the Islamic Revolution of 1979—including censorship, execution, and pending war—on the country as well as on his understanding of his own origins.

Blank Verse

A Guide to Its History and Use

By Robert B. Shaw

Blank verse—unrhymed iambic pentameter—is familiar to many as the form of Shakespeare’s plays and Milton’s Paradise Lost. Since its first use in English in the sixteenth century, it has provided poets with a powerful and versatile metrical line, enabling the creation of some of the most memorable poems of Wordsworth, Keats, Tennyson, Frost, Stevens, Wilbur, Nemerov, Hecht, and a host of others.

Taking the warp of dream, sometimes nightmare, and weaving it with the ordinary world, the poems of The Armillary Sphere, Ann Hudson's award-winning debut collection, do not simplify the mystery but deepen it.

In her second collection of poems, Jennifer Rose writes primarily of places and displacement. Using the postcard’s conventions of brevity, immediacy, and, in some instances, humor, these poems are greetings from destinations as disparate as Cape Cod, Kentuckiana, and Croatia. Rich in imagery, deftly crafted, and imbued with a lightness of voice, these poems are also postmarked from poetry’s more familiar provinces of love, nature, and loss.

In Joshua Mehigan’s award-winning poetry, one encounters a lucid, resolute vision driven by an amazing facility with the metrical line. Most of the poems in The Optimist unapologetically employ traditional poetic technique, and, in each of these, Mehigan stretches the fabric of living language over a framework of regular meter to produce a compelling sonic counterpoint.

Once or twice in a generation a poet comes along who captures the essential spirit of the American Midwest and gives name to the peculiar nature that persists there. Like James Wright, Robert Bly, Ted Kooser, and Jared Carter before him, Dan Lechay reshapes our imagination to include his distinct and profound vision of this undersung region.

The Palace of Bones by Allison Eir Jenks is an often stark and startling vision of the way we live, the places we inhabit, and the relics we make to comfort ourselves. Haunted by a quiet, unquenchable longing, Jenks expertly and calmly guides the reader through a vivid dreamscape in this first full-length collection of poems. The Palace of Bones was selected by final judge and Pulitzer Prize winner Carolyn Kizer.

Midland

Poems

By Kwame Dawes

The winning manuscript of the fourth annual Hollis Summers Poetry Prize is also the exciting American debut by a poet who has already established himself as an important international poetic voice. Midland, the seventh collection by Kwame Dawes, draws deeply on the poet's travels and experiences in Africa, the Caribbean, England, and the American South.

In choosing the winning manuscript for the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize, judge Andrew Hudgins remarked: “With immense poetic verve, Pelizzon finds flamboyance in places where it has been forgotten and brings it back to vivid life--and she sees it for what it is. Her vision is then both passionate and dispassionate at the same time, a maturity of perspective that is just one of the many accomplishments of this superb first book.”

In the world of Memye Curtis Tucker's poetry, the observed are on display, on trial, on guard, or disappearing, and often changed by the eyes upon them; the gazers are benevolent, threatening, judgmental, separate, invisible. There is in the poems a surface accessibility; mysteries in this book are not puzzles or ellipses, but moving revelations of paradox and unending possibilities. And while many are meditative there is always the tug of the narrative impulse.

About the author of this award-winning collection, final judge Miller Williams commented: “Meredith Carson writes poems so well-controlled in tone that the language of conversation takes on an elegance rarely found in contemporary poetry, but emphatically contemporary.” In this, her first collection of poetry, Meredith Carson combines form and feeling, human nature and animal instinct, a scientist's eye and a poet's heart to create poetry of detail and delight.