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  • Chen Chen

gates open: 2016 chapbook competition (poetry)

I am so excited to announce that gates are open—through March 31st—for our chapbook competition! Send Iron Horse your best short (28-36 pp.) collection of poetry, with each poem starting on a new page. Submissions will be read blind, so please make sure your manuscripts are stripped of any identifying information (this includes bios and acknowledgment pages). $18 reading fee is required and gets you a year’s subscription to the journal (six issues packed with stunning poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and video literature). Brilliant, award-winning poet Rebecca Gayle Howell will judge. Winner will receive a $1000 honorarium and 15 author copies. Full guidelines for the competition available here.

I have written about chapbooks and chapbook contests previously on the Iron Horse blog. I love chapbooks—writing and assembling them myself as well as reading them. I love their brevity, all that idiosyncratic vision and delicious language packed into a slim volume perfect for reading on the subway to work or in bed on a Saturday. You can read the whole thing in one sitting (or lie-down). I love the small presses (like ours!) that continue to make gorgeous small books—professionally designed and bound but with a certain warmth and genuine care, too.

In fact, some of my favorite recent poetry collections have been chapbooks: Jean Valentine’s Friend (which became a central section in her full-length book Shirt in Heaven), Kate Schapira’s Someone Is Here, and my press-mate Doug Paul Case’s College Town (Case has a poem in our upcoming National Poetry Month issue, as well).

Here at Iron Horse we alternate between poetry and prose for our chapbooks, so if you’re a fiction or nonfiction writer looking to submit a chapbook-length work, keep polishing that manuscript and check back with us. We publish the winning manuscript as a separate single author “issue” of the journal, placing full emphasis on the individual author and his or her work—the result is a handsome chapbook, a stand-alone work, by the winning writer. Last year’s winner, selected (and enthusiastically blurbed) by novelist and essayist Roxane Gay, was Kirk Wisland, for his essay collection, The Melancholy of Men—you can get your copy here for only $5.

Get those manuscripts in! If you don’t have a collection yet, we have plenty of other submission opportunities for you. We’re currently reading for our Sports Issue—poetry or prose relating to and transforming our personal/cultural perceptions of a sport. We’re also looking for video literature—digital essays, stories, and poems—for our annual filmfest and DVD Issue. If your work doesn’t fit these categories, definitely keep an eye out for the Open Issue submission period, which starts in March and, as the name implies, welcomes beautifully crafted work on any topic.

Happy writing! And submitting!

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