The Cathy Smith Bowers Chapbook Contest

Congratulations to Sara Ries of St. Petersburg, FL

Her collection, Marrying Maracuyá
was chosen by Cathy Smith Bowers as the WINNER
of the 2020 Cathy Smith Bowers Chapbook Contest

OTHER FINALISTS (Alphabetical by title):

A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos by Kelley Jean White, Philadelphia, PA
Sons and Tattoos by John O’Dell, Annapolis, MD
Where Comparison Ends by Kathryn Etters Lovatt, Camden, SC

Finalists have been offered publication as well


Contest Change:  Starting in 2021, there will be no submission deadlines, special contest reading fees, or reading period. ALL chapbooks PUBLISHED by Main Street Rag will be considered for this contest.


Open for submissions year round through Submittable.

Deadline: All Chapbooks published on the Main Street Rag label between June 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021 will be eligible for this prize. (for calendar year 2021, this will not include manuscripts chosen through the 2020 contest)
Prize: $1000
Reading Fee: $15 (Through Submittable)
Length: 28-40 pages of poetry (page count does not include title pages, table of contents or notes)

Cathy Smith Bowers is a professor in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte and former Poet Laureate of North Carolina. Bowers’ poetry has appeared in various magazines and journals including The Atlantic Monthly, The Georgia Review, Poetry, The Southern Review, and The Kenyon Review. Her collections of poetry include The Love That Ended Yesterday in Texas (Texas Tech University Press, 1992), Traveling in Time of Danger (Iris Press, 1999), A Book of Minutes (Iris Press, 2004), The Candle I Hold Up To See You (Iris Press, 2009), Like Shining from Shook Foil (Press 53, 2010), and most recently, The Collected Poems of Cathy Smith Bowers (Press 53, 2013).

Cathy will serve as final judge.

Detailed Submission Guidelines:

  • Manuscript should begin with a cover sheet including title of manuscript, author’s name and complete contact information (including email address and phone number).
  • Please use US letter size paper (8.5 X 11) and do not include images.
  • Notes of explanation for contents, quotes or source material are acceptable at the back of the collection.
  • Page numbering is helpful, appreciated, but not necessary.
  • Table of Contents is also not necessary, but appreciated.
  • Additional details for submission formatting on the Submittables page.


Winner will be announced by the end of August each year along with runners up.

Any questions and all emailed submissions should be directed to:

Previous Winners:

2020 — Marrying Maracuyá by Sara Ries, St. Petersburg, FL

2019 — When I Hold You Up to the Light by Doralee Brooks, Bridgeville, PA

2018 — Mortality, with Pronoun Shifts by Don Colburn, Portland, OR

2017 — Summer Job by John Stupp, Sewickley, PA

2016 — Good Housekeeping by Jason Gebhardt, Washington, DC


Contest Recommendations

Email Submission Instructions

Main Street Rag does allow for email submissions, but the guidelines for file preparation are specific. They are designed to level the playing field for those who are not as adept in file preparation and unfamiliar with unintended changes in formatting that can occur when a WORD file is moved from one computer to another. They are for author benefit since we will not adjust the files we receive. So, please read them carefully before choosing this option and give yourself enough time to prepare the file as close to instructions as possible.

Guidelines for email submissions

Reading Fee for Cathy Smith Bowers Chapbook Contest:

(Please ONLY pay online if you intend to enter an electronic attachment. Printed hardcopy entries should pay by check.)