Illustration by Nick Yang.
Since 2012, the Zócalo Public Square Poetry Prize has recognized the U.S. writer of a poem that best evokes a connection to place. Zócalo will begin accepting submissions on November 20, 2023. The deadline for entries is January 22, 2024, at 11:59 PM PST. There is no fee required to enter the contest, and we accept simultaneous submissions.
We are on the lookout for that rare combination of creativity and clarity, excellence and evocation. The prize interprets “place” in many ways: A location may possess historical, cultural, political, or personal importance, and may be literal, imaginary, or metaphorical.
Our 13th annual winner will be selected by the Zócalo staff, working in conjunction with a Poetry Prize selection committee. The winner will receive $1,000 and will have the opportunity to read their poem at the Zócalo Book Prize event in the spring. Zócalo will also publish the poem on our site alongside an interview with the poet. In addition, we plan to recognize our honorable mention submissions.
Screenwriter and philanthropist Tim Disney returns to sponsor Zócalo’s literary prize program, which also includes the Zócalo Public Square Book Prize.
Our past winners have found inspiration abroad and at home, in nature and on city streets, and from places and spaces they traveled to only in their minds:
• Paige Buffington, “From 20 Miles Outside of Gallup, Holbrook, Winslow, Farmington, or Albuquerque” (2023)
• Chelsea Rathburn, “8 a.m., Ocean Drive” (2022)
• Angelica Esquivel, “La Mujer” (2021)
• Jai Hamid Bashir, “Little Bones” (2020)
• Erica Goss, “The State of Jefferson” (2019)
• Charles Jensen, “Tucson” (2018)
• Matt Sumpter, “No World” (2017)
• Matt Phillips, “Crossing Coronado Bridge” (2016)
• Gillian Wegener, “The Old Mill Café” (2015)
• Amy Glynn, “Shoreline” (2014)
• Jia-Rui Chong Cook, “Fault” (2013)
• Jody Zorgdrager, “Coming Back, It Comes Back” (2012)
We will announce submission guidelines on November 20, 2023.
Poems must be original and previously unpublished work. We accept up to three poems from each writer as well as simultaneous submissions; let us know immediately if your work is accepted elsewhere.
Entries will be judged based on originality of ideas, theme, and style. Judging is at the sole discretion of Zócalo Public Square and our Poetry Prize committee. The winner will be announced in spring 2024, and the winning poet will receive $1,000, a published interview, and an opportunity for a public reading hosted by Zócalo. The winning poem will be published on zocalopublicsquare.org. We will also be publishing a selection of honorable mention poems; those writers will receive $100.
The winning poem and honorable mentions become the property of Zócalo Public Square, but writers may republish their poems at a later date after crediting and receiving permission from Zócalo. By entering the contest, the entrants grant Zócalo the right to publish and distribute their poems for media and publicity purposes, along with the poets’ name and photograph. Poets will be contacted by Zócalo before we publish any submission.