Established in 1978 to recognize and promote excellence in contemporary poetry by ensuring the publication of five books of poetry a year through a series of participating publishers. Five distinguished poets will each select one winning manuscript for publication from entries to the Open Competition. Each winner will receive $1,000.

2016 Open Competition Guidelines

The National Poetry Series seeks book-length manuscripts of poetry written by American residents or American citizens living abroad. All manuscripts must be previously unpublished in their complete form, although some or all of the individual poems may have appeared in periodicals. Translations, chapbooks, small groups of poems, and books previously self-published are not eligible. Manuscript length is not limited. However, a length of 48-64 pages is suggested.

Manuscripts are submitted online via the website (, along with an entrance fee of $30.00 (per manuscript). The entry period begins on January 1, 2016 and runs through (and including) February 15, 2016.

Manuscripts must include 2 cover pages:
  • One page should list title of manuscript, author’s name, address, and email/telephone number. This should be the only page with author’s identification.
  • One page should list title of manuscript only.

Manuscripts must be:
  • Paginated (include a table of contents).  

DO NOT INCLUDE: Acknowledgments, explanatory statements, resumes, autobiographical statements, photographs, illustrations, or artwork. These will not be considered.

No additions, deletions, or substitutions once a manuscript has been submitted.
Entrants should inform NPS immediately if their manuscript is selected for publication elsewhere.

Finalists will be notified and may be asked to submit five (5) additional copies of their original submission.

Winning authors will be given the opportunity to make final changes prior to publication.

Please visit The National Poetry Series web site: for general updates throughout the competition.

If you require any additional information, write to the Coordinator, NPS, 57 Mountain Avenue, Princeton, NJ  08540 or email

Winners of the 2015 Open Competition

The National Poetry Series is pleased to announce the results of the 2015 Open Competition.  The winning books are scheduled for publication in 2016.

Not on the Last Day, But on the Very Last
by Justin Boening of Iowa City, IA
Chosen by Wayne Miller, to be published by Milkweed Editions

The Wug Test
by Jennifer Kronovet of New York, NY
Chosen by Eliza Griswold, to be published by Ecco

by Melissa Range of Appleton, WI
Chosen by Tracy K. Smith, to be published by Beacon Press

by Danniel Schoonebeek of Brooklyn, NY
Chosen by Kevin Prufer, to be published by University of Georgia Press

The Sobbing School 
by Joshua Bennett of Yonkers, NY
Chosen by Eugene Gloria, to be published by Penguin

The National Poetry Series was established in 1978 to ensure the publication of poetry books annually through participating publishers.  More than 185 books have been awarded since the Series’ inception.

Congratulations to the 2015 winners!

National Poetry Series Open Competition Deadline Extended to March 6th

There is still time to submit to the 2015 National Poetry Series Open Competition.  Due to adverse weather conditions, the deadline has been EXTENDED to include all submissions with a postmark through March 6th, 2015.

2015 Open Competition Deadline Extension

Due to winter weather disruptions, the deadline for the 2015 National Poetry Series Open Competition has been EXTENDED to include all submissions with a postmark through February 23, 2015.