Scan any listing of contests open to poets and you'll likely find a whole bunch given for first books. The Walt Whitman, the Honickman, the A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize, the Cave Canem Poetry Prize—the list goes on. And that's great: Debut poets need all the help they can get. (Check out our Pass-Along Poems chapbook.) But far fewer awards are given specifically for second collections. The James Laughlin Award and the Barnard Women Poets Prize are among the standouts, but once you've published your first book, the number of contests to which you may submit your manuscript plummets. Well, now we can add one.
Earlier this month Cave Canem, the literary nonprofit founded in 1996 by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, announced the inaugural Cave Canem Northwestern Press Poetry Prize, a second book award for African American poets, that will further the nonprofit's commitment to "cultivating the artistic and professional growth of African American poets."
The annual award was created through the partnership of the Cave Canem Foundation and Northwestern University Press. The winner will receive a thousand dollars, publication by Northwestern University Press, fifteen copies of the published book, and a reading. African American poets who have had one full-length book of poetry published by a professional press are elegible. (Chapbooks and self-published works do not qualify.)
Judges of the inaugural prize will be Reginald Gibbons, Parneshia Jones, and John Keene. The reading period begins January 1, 2009. The deadline is March 1. Guidelines are available at the Cave Canem Web site. Poets may also e-mail Camille Rankine for more information.