Main Street Rag Poetry Book Contest


A letter from the publisher regarding the results of the 2021 contest:

On March 22, 2021, the final judges selected Solastalgia as the winner of our contest. It was a unanimous decision. We believed it was, hands down, the most unique manuscript we received this year. The winner was notified and expressed great excitement and enthusiasm. The other finalists were then informed of their status and offered publication on the basis of how they had finished.

A few days later, after the finalists had been informed, the winner sent an email to state she had:  “…decided not to accept the award and to withdraw my manuscript.” Despite several attempts to understand why, no explanation was given.

I had already been informed by the runner up that he would not allow us to publish the manuscript we received because it had been completely changed, shortened, and was no longer a full-length manuscript.

We had a judges’ conference to discuss how to handle the matter and that, too, was unanimous. We didn’t feel comfortable sliding others up a contest ladder. As a result, we will not be awarding prize money in this year’s contest. Instead, the money will be used in the production of finalists’ books. That is to say: It will be distributed among the authors who DID accept our publishing offer in the form of additional contributor copies.

I do not know how this will affect the future of this contest, but there is a strong chance it will now go on hiatus and, possibly be discontinued. A decision will be made prior to December 1. 2021—when the next submission period is currently scheduled to begin.


M. Scott Douglass
Publisher/Managing Editor
Main Street Rag Publishing Company

2022 Guidelines

Guidelines will be updated Fall 2021.


Contest Recommendations

***Postage Saver Special*** For those who read all the way down the page!!!

Email Submission Instructions

Main Street Rag does allow for email submissions, but the guidelines are even more specific, so please read them carefully before choosing this option and give yourself enough time to prepare the manuscript file properly.

Guidelines for email submissions

Reading Fee for Poetry Book Award:

Online Payment for MSR Poetry Book Award:

Winners’ List

2020: Solastalgia by Brittany Corrigan, Portland, OR (unpublished)

2020: Postscript to War by Bill Glose, Yorktown, VA

2019: Stick Figure with Skirt by Cathryn Cofell, Neenah, WI

2018: Ticket Stubs & Liner Notes by Tim Hunt, Normal, IL

2017: Urbilly by Michael Dowdy, Columbia, SC

2016: Tasty Other by Katie Manning, San Diego, CA

2015: Miss Desert Inn by Ron Salisbury, San Diego, CA

2014: If You Find Yourself by Brian Heston, Atlanta, GA

2013: All the Heat We Could Carry by Charlie Bondhus, Bridgewater, NJ

2012: Shortly Thereafter by Colin D. Halloran, Boston, MA

2011: Elegies for New York Avenue by Melanie Henderson of Washington, DC

2010: God’s Optimism by Yehoshua November of Morristown, NJ
Was also a finalist for the LA Times Book of the Year.

2009: Opulent Hunger, Opulent Rage by Leslie McGrath, Stonington, CT

2008: The Boy Whose Hands Were Birds by Roy Seeger, Aiken, SC

2007: The Lost Tribe of Us by Heather Davis, Front Royal, VA

2006: Salt Memory by Jennifer K. Sweeney, San Francisco, CA

2005: Conquistador by Jay Griswold, N. Fort Myers, FL

2004: The Hospital Poems by Jim Ferris, Verona, WI. Was also a finalist
for the Texas Institute of Letters Natalie Ornish Best Book of Poetry Award.

2003: Nearing Narcoma by Matt Morris, Elkview, WV

2002: Across The Dark by Pam Bernard, Boston, MA