the ihlr chapbook



For the 2021 Chapbook Competition, we will select a winning collection of POETRY. Manuscripts should be 28 - 36 pages with each poem starting on a new page. The winning manuscript will be published in the Fall of 2021 as a separate issue (Volume 23.4). Full-color cover art will reflect the collection’s content and emphasize its title, not the name of Iron Horse. The published chapbook will look like the single-author book that it is. The winner also receives a $1,000 honorarium and 15 copies.

Due to Covid-19 budget cuts, the editors at Iron Horse will serve as judges until our full budget is reinstated.




• Entries for poetry chapbooks must be between 28 and 36 pages, with each poem starting on a new page. (In years when we are consider prose chapbooks, manuscripts should be between 40 and 56 pages, with each story/chapter/essay starting on a new page.)

• Manuscripts must be typed, with one-inch margins, 12-point font.

• While individual portions of the chapbook may have been published elsewhere, the chapbook as a whole must be previously unpublished.

• The author’s name and  contact  information  must  appear  on  the  Submittable  form, but it must NOT appear anywhere on the manuscript. There should be no footers or headers containing the author's identity. And no bio page. Manuscripts with biographical information will be disqualified.

• Do not include acknowledgments of previous publications. Manuscripts including an acknowledgments page will be disqualified. • Pages must be numbered.

• The $18 entry fee includes a year's subscription to IHLR.

• We only accept electronic manuscripts, submitted as ONE pdf file, with the entire chapbook in that single file. 

•  Submissions will be accepted between January 15 and March 15. 


free submit day

We will accept 20 free submissions on March 1, 2021. On that day, we will open a special gate, revealed on our social media pages (connect with us below) and here on our website. We will accept only one free submission per person (automatically disqualifying subsequent free submission attempts), and we will only accept the first twenty. Once we hit 20 submissions in the free gate, we will close it. Free submissions will not receive a subscription. We offer this opportunity in the hopes of targeting writers who cannot afford to enter otherwise. If you can afford to enter, please do not take one of the 20 available free slots.


January 15, 2021 to March 15, 2021: Submit here.

To submit on March 1 for free (with no subscription): Submit here on that day.


We'll announce finalists and the winner here, the finalists in late spring, the winner during the summer.

2020 semi-finalists


Benny Allen, Tales from the Modern Age

Nick Almeida, How to Shoot Grooms

Sean Bernard, (a rebuttal)

Michael Chin, Time to Go Home

Joyce Goldenstern, Old Woman and Eel

Alissa Hattman, We All Fall Down

Faith Holsaert, You Are, You Know You Are
Gina Ocshner, Kindred Spirits

Jill Talbot, A Distant Town: Stories

2020 finalists

Sean Bernard, Therapy

Kim Bradley, How to Draw a Circle

Malcolm Dixon, Death in the Cathedral
Jaclyn Dwyer, The Drowned Maidens Club

Dave Kaczynski, Way of Being
Sam Kaspar, dead cat on fox

Roz Spafford, Last Rites

2020 winner!

Brigitte Lewis, Origin Stories

About the 2020 winning manuscript by Brigitte Lewis, Kerry Beth Neville said: "I read Origin Stories with enormous pleasure from the first to the last sentence. It is an intimate, ambitious and witty collection that delves into the tangled domestic lives of famous Biblical couples: Adam and Eve (wife #2), Lot and Edith, David and Bathsheba, Samson and Delilah, and Adam (again) and Lilith (wife #1). In 'Adam + Eve + Eukaryotes,' the first story of the collection, Adam asks Eve, 'Don't you think we're in this story together?' This double-negative query reveals Adam hopes for Eve’s easy reassurance. After all, she is born of his rib so forever of his body. Eve, however, cryptically responds, 'I know who I am.' This brief Q&A echoes across this collection. I love the surprising and satisfying way these stories interrogate our mythical and mundane MeetCute beginnings, where men are 'raised to be earthquakes' and women are 'raised to be split.'"

previous judges

previous winners

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