The Backwaters Prize
The Backwaters Prize is an annual award, open to all poets working in the English language, given to the author of the best submitted manuscript of original poems. The prize is $2,500 cash and publication of the winning manuscript. The press adheres strictly to the CLMP guidelines in administering the prize.
Submissions to the prize are accepted in the Spring and the award is announced in the Fall; please check the Submissions page for specific dates.
Past Winners of the Backwaters Prize
- 2016 – Mary Jo Thompson, Stunt Heart – Henri Cole, judge
- 2015 – Kim Garcia, DRONE – Heid E. Erdrich, judge
- 2014 – Katharine Whitcomb, The Daughter’s Almanac – Patricia Smith, judge
- 2013 – Zeina Hashem Beck for To Live in Autumn – Lola Haskins, judge
- 2012 – Susan Elbe for The Map of What Happened – David Clewell, judge (being published September, 2013)
- 2005-2011 Prize Suspended
- 2004 – Aaron Anstett for No Accident – Philip Levine, judge
- 2003 – Michelle Gillett for Blinding the Goldfinches – Hayden Carruth, judge
- 2002 – Ginny MacKenzie for Skipstone – Hilda Raz, judge
- 2001 – Susan Firer for The Laugh We Make When We Fall – Carol Ann Russell, judge
- 2000 – David Staudt for The Gifts and the Thefts – Ted Kooser, judge
- 1999 – Sally Allen McNall for Rescue – Greg Kuzma, judge
- 1998 – Kevin Griffith for Paradise Refunded – Greg Kosmicki, judge
Notable Acheivements of Backwaters Prize Winners
The 2004 Winner of The Backwaters Prize, No Accident by Aaron Anstett, also won The Balcones Award from Austin College for the best book of poetry published by a small press in 2004, the Nebraska Book Award for Poetry, and was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award for 2004.
Three winners of The Backwaters Prize have been named Poets Laureate: Susan Firer, who has had two books published by the press, was named Poet Laureate of Milwaukee (after the publication of her selected poems, Milwaukee Does Strange Things to People, by the press) and Aaron Anstett was named the Pike’s Peak Area Poet Laureate this year. John Ronan was named Poet Laureate of Gloucester, Massachusetts after the publication of his book, Marrowbone Lane.