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Make great works of literature possible

Founded in 1997, the Backwaters Press has worked to produce award-winning books by some of America’s finest authors. As a non-profit, the press is dedicated to serving authors producing poetry and prose that contribute to our cultural landscape. Your financial gift to the Backwaters Press helps to fund our work of producing great literature.


Support the mission of the Backwaters Press to publish literature of value and consequence. Your donation helps to discover new authors, publish collections by talented writers and assemble anthologies of importance.

The Backwaters Press has won at least one Nebraska Book Award each year for Poetry and/or Cover Design since the award’s inception in 2000:

The Backwaters Prize, an international poetry book competition, was initiated in 1998 and ran for seven years. Contest winners were chosen by distinguished American poets including Hayden Carruth (National Book Award, National Book Circle Critics Award), Philip Levine (National Book Award, two Pulitzer Prizes), and Ted Kooser (Poet Laureate of the United States, Pulitzer Prize winner).

Two winners of the Backwaters Prize were named Poets Laureate in 2008: Susan Firer (The Laugh We Make When We Fall and Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People), who was named Poet Laureate of Milwaukee, and Aaron Anstett (No Accident), who was named the Pike’s Peak Area Poet Laureate. Anstett’s book also won The Balcones Award from Austin College for the best book of poetry published by a small press in 2004.

In addition to the Backwaters Prize, the press additionally initiated a prize for novels, The Omaha Prize. However, after two years, a decision was made by the editor to publish only poetry and poetry-related books.

From 2004 to 2006, in an effort to honor the Nebraska native poet Weldon Kees, the press embarked on another ambitious project, The Weldon Kees Award, a chapbook contest that selected and published three winners each year.

The Backwaters Press is recognized by the IRS as a non-profit, 501-(C)-3 organization. Verification of this status is available upon request. The total amount of any donation you may make may be deducted from your income tax as a donation to a charitable organization.