Colorado Prize for Poetry

Learn about the Colorado Prize for Poetry book contest

Colorado Prize for Poetry Books

The Colorado Prize for Poetry is an international poetry book manuscript contest established in 1995. Each year’s prizewinner receives a $2,500 honorarium and publication of his or her book by the Center for Literary Publishing.

The Colorado Prize for Poetry adheres to the following Contest Code of Ethics, as adopted by the Council of Literary Presses and Magazines, of which the Center for Literary Publishing is a longtime member: “CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines — defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.”

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Current Winner

We are very pleased to announce that Leonora Simonovis’s Study of the Raft was selected by final judge Sherwin Bitsui as the winner of the 2021 Colorado Prize for Poetry. Her book was published The Center for Literary Publishing in November 2021 and available here.

Leonora Simonovis is a bilingual poet who grew up near Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in San Diego, California, where she teaches Latin American literature and creative writing at the University of San Diego. She is a VONA (Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation) fellow, has an MFA from Antioch University, Los Angeles, and is a contributing editor for Drizzle Review, as well as an associate editor for Poets Reading the News (for the Spring of 2021). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming from Gargoyle Magazine, Diode Poetry Journal, The Rumpus, Arkansas International, Inverted Syntax, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. She was recently featured in CIACLA’s (Contemporary Irish Arts Center, Los Angeles) “I Traveled West” Poets on Place and Belonging” and in the University of San Diego series on Revolutionary Womxn. Her chapbook, Every Mouth a Wound, is forthcoming from Femme Salvé Press in January of 2022.

Submission Guidelines

Contest Procedures

When your manuscript arrives (if you submit by mail), it is logged into our Colorado Prize database by our office assistant. The top cover sheet (with your name and address) is removed and filed away until the contest is over. Identities of authors submitting their manuscripts online are not visible to any of the judges.

Once all the entries have been received--whether paper or electronic--and the authors’ identities removed, they are divided among five to seven (depending on the total number of entries received) outside preliminary judges; the Center does not use interns or students to judge for this contest. Each preliminary judge will select three to four manuscripts (depending on the number of preliminary judges we require), for a total of twenty or twenty-one finalists. If a judge recognizes the work of a colleague, student, or friend, he or she contacts the Center and that manuscript is sent to another judge.

The final judge then receives the finalists from which to select the winner. If the final judge wishes to see additional manuscripts from the preliminary judges, he or she may request them; the judge is not, however, permitted to request specific manuscripts. Friends, colleagues, and students (current or former) of the judge are not eligible to compete, and the judge agrees to refrain as well from selecting any manuscript that presents a conflict of interest (selecting, for example, a manuscript he or she has helped to develop)

Frequently Asked Questions

If your question hasn’t been answered here, e-mail us at or give us a call at 970-491-5449.