The Cathy Smith Bowers Chapbook Contest

Congratulations to Doralee Brooks of Bridgeville, PA!
Her collection, When I Hold You up to the Light,
was chosen by Cathy Smith Bowers as the WINNER
of the 2019 Cathy Smith Bowers Chapbook Contest

FINALISTS (Alphabetical by title):

Clerk of the Dead by Alan Perry, Maple Grove, MN
Demon Barber
by Ruth Bardon, Durham, NC
How to Prepare Escargot by Elaine Fowler Palencia of Champaign, IL
In the Coral Reef by Earl Carlton Huband of Durham, NC

Finalists offered publication as well


Deadline Alert:  Electronic submission EXTENDED until midnight (Eastern) June 17, 2020
(due to our website going down June 15, 2020)



Open for submissions May 1, 2020

Deadline: June 15, 2020 (postmark deadline–for those mailing their entries)
Prize: $1000 + 50 copies of published book
Reading Fee: $15 ($17 for email entry)
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.

Hard copy entries should be mailed to:

Main Street Rag
PO BOX 690100
Charlotte, NC 28227-7001

Detailed 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).
  • Second page should be the title only and the author’s name should not appear anywhere in the actual manuscript.
  • NO PUBLISHING CREDITS (Acknowledgments) or BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS should appear anywhere in the manuscript. We judge blind on the basis of the quality of the collection not the author or number of times and/or places the contents have been published.
  • Please use 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.
  • We do not return manuscripts under any circumstances, so please save the postage and do not include a return envelope.
  • We also prefer to report by email, so please be sure the any email address you use is long term and reliable. We will send results to the contest by US Postal Service if preferred and if a BUSINESS-SIZE (#10–4 X 10) SASE is supplied. We will also acknowledge receipt of the manuscript if a self addressed stamped postcard is provided.
  • No need for clips or binding of any kind.
  • Page numbering is helpful, appreciated, but not necessary.
  • Table of Contents is also not necessary, but appreciated.
  • (Please ONLY pay online if you intend to enter an electronic attachment. Printed hardcopy entries should pay by check.)

Winner will be announced by the end of August along with finalists who will also be offered publication.

All finalists receive a free one year subscription to The Main Street Rag.

Any questions and all emailed submissions should be directed to:

Previous Winners:

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.)