napomo with ihlr

It's been 11 years since we started publishing an annual issue dedicated to National Poetry Month! This is one of our most popular issues, and we always combine new voices with some established champions. Each fall, when we begin hunting the poems we will include, we're excited to see what poets have been working on over the summer.

This summer, Covid-19 budget cuts hit Iron Horse hard. Our operating budget was cut by 31 percent, so we've had to reorganize the way we manage and release some issues. Our NaPoMo issue will now be released electronically, via ISSUU, which means anyone can download and read it for free, and so our contributors' works will reach a wider audience. We're also going to be more selective with this issue. Instead of 25 poems, we will only be selecting the very best 11: one winner and ten finalists--much like our annual PhotoFinish issue. The issue will be released in full color, and each manuscript will have its own artwork. 

The entrance fee is now $15, which includes a year's subscription for print issues. Plus, while the ten finalists will receive our standard honorarium for poems ($50 per poem), the winner will receive $1,000. 


• Poets can submit up to five poems for consideration.

• Manuscripts must be typed and in a 12-point font.

• The author’s name and  contact  information  must  appear  on  the  Submittable  form, but it must NOT appear anywhere else--no headers or footers with identifying information; no bio note inside the manuscript. Manuscripts with biographical information will be disqualified.

The $15 entry fee includes a year's subscription to IHLR.

• We only accept electronic manuscripts, submitted as ONE pdf file, with all of the poems in that single file. 

•  Submissions will be accepted between August 15 and October 1.

•  Geffrey Davis will judge.

free submit day

We will accept 25 free submissions on September 1, 2020. 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 25. Once we hit 25 submissions in the free gate, we will close it. Free submissions will not receive a subscription or feedback. 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 25 available free slots.

August 15 to October 1: Submit here.

September 1 for free: Submit here.


We'll announce semi-finalists, finalists, and the winner here in December. The winner and ten finalists will be published in a full-color, electronic issue in the spring of 2021!

2021 semi-finalists

Cassandra Cleghorn, "Her Need to Hear Only the Lesson Learned"

Jessica Dionne, "Self-Portrait as the Moth Floating in My Water Cup," "Please Use Your Inside Voice," and "A Hunger in 3 Cities:"

Dante di Stefano, "stand back and stand by"

Natalie Havlina, "Spider Veins"

Matthew Hawk, "Apollo’s Archaic Torso"

Siew David Hii, "The Heart, the Mangoes, another Heart, Night"

Bill Hollands, "ICYMI" and "The Crocodile Pit at the Serpentarium, Miami, Florida"

Trevor Ketner, "[Thus can my love excuse the slow offence]"

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, "Week 11: Fig"

Susan Meserve, "On the Phone"

Mary Moore, "Instructions To Self"

Amy Stengel, "After Reading Walden for the 5th Time"

Ayesha Shibli, "The Last Person and My Mother and I Resurrect Our Dead"

Sarah Snyder, "Second Knee Replacement"

Lana Spendl, "Through the Window"

Leslie Williams, "Over Leaf and Still Life with Lobster" and "Nautilus"

2021 finalists

Jessica Dionne, "Swamp Mama"

Dante di Stefano, "Eating Lucky Charms Straight Out of the Box in the Middle of the Night, I Suddenly Want to Be a Lorca Poem"

S. M. Ellis, "My Father as Graven Image"

Adam J. Gellings, "The Half of It"

Kathryn Haemmerle, "March Propositions"

Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach, "Week 14: Lemon"

Susie Meserve, "Heat Wave"

Ayesha Shibli, "My Father Teaches Me How to Open a Pomegranate"

Sarah Snyder, "Ginger Roots"

Leslie Williams, "Connective Tissue"

2021 winner!

Cassandra Cleghorn, "You Ask What I Was Like Back Then"

winners and napomo issues

Cassandra Cleghorn
Cassandra Cleghorn

2021 winner

NaPoMo 2021
NaPoMo 2021

NaPoMo 2021

winning issue
winning issue
winning issue
winning issue
winning issue
winning issue
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