Zócalo Public Square Is Taking Entries for Its Fifth Annual Poetry Prize

We’re Looking for Verse That Best Evokes Connection to Place

Poetry Prize

Since 2012, the Zócalo Public Square Poetry Prize has been awarded annually to the U.S. poet whose poem best evokes a connection to place. “Place” may be interpreted by the poet as a place of historical, cultural, political, or personal importance; it may be a literal, imaginary, or metaphorical landscape. We are looking for one poem that offers our readers a fresh, original, and meaningful take on the topic.

Like everything else we feature, we are most on the lookout for that rare combination of brilliance and clarity, excellence, and accessibility. Please take a look at our winning entries from 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

The winning poet in 2016, as judged by the Zócalo staff, will receive $500.

The poetry prize competition is hosted in conjunction with our book prize, awarded to the nonfiction book that most enhances our understanding of community.

Submission Guidelines


Poems must be original and previously unpublished work. Entries will be accepted until February 5, 2016.


For consideration, please send up to three poems to

Please attach poem(s) as a single Word document to your email. Include your name, address, phone number, and email address on each poem. Personal identification will be removed prior to judge’s review. We will accept online submissions only.


Entries will be judged based on originality of ideas, how well the poem fits the theme, and style. Judging is at the sole discretion of Zócalo Public Square. The winner will be announced in March 2016, and the winning poet will receive $500. The winning poem will be published on


The winning poem becomes the property of Zócalo Public Square. By entering the contest, the entrant grants Zócalo the right to publish and distribute his or her poem for media and publicity purposes, along with the poet’s name and photograph. Writers will be contacted by Zócalo before we publish any submission, either for the contest or on our site.

  • Francis Kou Sugita

    Can the submission be simultaneous?

    • zocalo

      Yes, the submissions can be simultaneous, but if you win the prize (or if we’d like to publish it later), you will have to withdraw your submission elsewhere.

  • May I send in more than 1 submission of three poems; in other words 2 sets of submissions?

    • ZocaloPublicSquare

      Just one set of 3 poems from each poet, please.

  • C Hope Clark

    Okay, so if I enter, you can still publish and distribute my poem for media and publicity purposes? Or is that just for the winner? Not clear and I don’t like giving away rights if I lose. Thanks.

    • ZocaloPublicSquare

      If you win, we publish your poem on Zocalo and publicize it. If you are not the winner, but we like the poem, our poetry editor may contact you about publishing it on Zocalo at another time. We publish new poems on Fridays.

  • ZocaloPublicSquare

    American citizens and U.S. residents are eligible.

  • Michael

    I appreciate this forum… I emailed one poem yesterday. I came across another one that I had written with this theme in mind some time ago. May I send another email with this one poem attached, or do I need to withdraw the poem I entered, and re-enter this contest now with both poems attached to one email…? Thank you for your time….

    • ZocaloPublicSquare

      You may enter three poems total. So if you’ve only entered one so far, you can send another email adding your new poem.

  • ZocaloPublicSquare

    You can publish your poem later — just acknowledge that it was first published in Zocalo Public Square.

  • ZocaloPublicSquare

    Yes, the theme is the same every year. Good luck in next year’s contest.

  • ZocaloPublicSquare

    We will be announcing the winner in a few weeks. Stay tuned!

  • Zula TV

    When is the winner’s announcement?