Zócalo Public Square Is Accepting Entries for Its Ninth Annual Poetry Prize

We’re Looking for Poems That Best Evoke Connection to Place

Zócalo Public Square Is Accepting Entries for Its Ninth Annual Poetry Prize | Zocalo Public Square • Arizona State University • Smithsonian

Dead Fish, Salton Sea, a photograph by artist Richard Misrach in 1983. Richard Misrach, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

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 as a place of historical, cultural, political, or personal importance; it may be a literal, imaginary, or metaphorical landscape.

We are on the lookout for that rare combination of brilliance and clarity, excellence, and accessibility. Please take a look at our winning entries from 2012201320142015201620172018, and 2019.

The winning poet in 2020, as judged by the Zócalo staff, will receive $500, and have their poem published on Zócalo Public Square, which will also feature an interview with the author.

The poetry prize competition is hosted in conjunction with our book prize, awarded to the nonfiction book that most enhances our understanding of community. Zócalo is a Los Angeles-based nonprofit with the mission of connecting people to ideas and to each other.

Submission Guidelines


Poems must be original and previously unpublished work. Entries will be accepted until February 3, 2020.


For consideration, please send up to three poems to poetry@zocalopublicsquare.org.

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 review by the judges. We will accept online submissions only, and receipt will be acknowledged at the time of submission.


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 2020, and the winning poet will receive $500 and a published interview. The winning poem will be published on zocalopublicsquare.org.


The winning poem becomes the property of Zócalo Public Square, and the writer may republish the poem at a later date with Zócalo’s permission. By entering the contest, the entrant grants Zócalo the right to publish and distribute their poem for media and publicity purposes, along with the poet’s name and photograph. Poets will be contacted by Zócalo before we publish any submission, either for the contest or on our site.


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