Press 53 is an independent publisher of award-winning poetry and short story collections and is located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. By no set design, about half of the books we publish are from writers in and around the Carolinas and surrounding states. The other half are located from Florida to California to Washington Sate to New England, and several points between. A little over half of our authors are women.

Our goal is to ignore market trends and publish writing we love.

We publish 6-8 poetry collections each year, including titles under our Tom Lombardo Poetry Selections, edited by Tom Lombardo, and our Silver Concho Poetry Series, edited by Pamela Uschuk and William Pitt Root..

We publish 6 short story collections each year by widely published and award-winning writers. One collection is published by way of our Press 53 Award for Short Fiction, while the remaining story collections come to us by actively seeking out writers we find in journals and magazines, and who are winning other contests, including the Prime Number Magazine Awards (formerly the Press 53 Open Awards), that is operated by our digital, online quarterly journal. 

Every odd year on Halloween, we publish Surreal South, a collection of strange, odd, Gothic, southern stories, originally edited by Laura and Pinckney Benedict, and now edited by Josh Woods. Submissions are open Jan-Apr every odd year.

Also check out Prime Number Magazine, our quarterly online journal of distinctive poetry and prose from writers at all levels and tastes. Publishing in journals, magazines, and anthologies is a great way to build your bio, build readership, and meet other writers and editors who will later become your support team.

The Press 53 Blog is where you will meet and interact with some of our authors and editors.

We encourage you to visit our website at and sample our books. This helps support our press and our authors. Also find us on Facebook and give us a 'Like."

Best regards and wishes,

Kevin Morgan Watson
Founding Editor

View Your Submissions

2015 Press 53 Award for Poetry

- Hide Guidelines

$30.00 USD

Ends on 7/31/2014

Award includes:
Publication by Press 53 of the winning poetry collection.
$1,000 cash advance.
Travel expenses to Press 53 headquarters for a reading/book launch party in Winston-Salem, NC, on Friday, April 3, 2015.

Attendance as our special guest to the Press 53/
Jacar Press Gathering of Poets on Saturday, April 4, 2015.

Press 53 is proud to announce the Press 53 Award for Poetry, to be awarded annually to an outstanding, unpublished collection of poems. This contest is open to any writer, regardless of his or her publication history, provided the manuscript is written in English and the author lives in the United States. The winner of this contest will receive publication by Press 53, a $1,000 cash advance, travel expenses and lodging for a special reading and book signing party in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, attendance to the 2015 Press 53/Jacar Press Gathering of Poets, and ten copies of the book; all prizes will be awarded upon publication.

Dates for submission: April 1, 2014—July 31, 2014. Submissions will close at midnight Eastern Standard Time on July 31.

Shortlist: A shortlist of finalists will be announced no later than October 1, 2014.

Winner: The winner of the Press 53 Award for Poetry will be announced on December 1, 2014, on the Press 53 website, Press 53 blog, via email, Facebook, and Twitter.

Award: The author of the winning manuscript will receive a cash advance of $1,000, publication of the manuscript in April 2015 as a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection under a standard Press 53 book contract, and 10 copies of the completed book with an option to purchase unlimited copies at a discount for as long as the book is in print. The prize also includes travel expenses to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for a book launch party and reading on Friday, April 3, 2015, and attendance as our special guest to the Press 53/Jacar Press Gathering of Poets on Saturday, April 4, 2015.

How to submit: Press 53 will take electronic submissions via Submittable; we will not accept paper submissions.

Reading fee: A reading fee of $30 must be paid for each entry. Reading fees are nonrefundable.

Judging: Press 53 Poetry Series Editor Tom Lombardo will be the only judge of the contest; the contest will be judged solely on the strength of the poems as a collection, and the winning collection will be published as a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection.

Eligibility: The competition is open to manuscripts written in the English language from writers at all levels who live in the United States. Authors and editors who work for Press 53 or have published a book with Press 53 are not eligible to enter.

Manuscript Guidelines:
  1.Manuscripts should be no less than 60 pages and no more than 120 pages in length. We do not favor one length over the other. We are only concerned with the quality of the poems.
  2.This is a BLIND read, so author's name should not appear on the manuscript.
  3.The award recognizes an outstanding collection of poetry.
  4.Manuscript pages should be numbered.
  5.Include a table of contents.
  6.Use a standard, easy-to-read font such as 12-point Times New Roman.
  7.Poems previously published in journals, magazines or anthologies, and poems that have won awards, may be included in the manuscript.
  8.Previously published collections are not eligible, including self-published collections available as ebooks or in print.
  9.Authors may submit more than one manuscript to the competition for consideration. Each submission will require a separate reading fee.
10.Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but please withdraw your manuscript if it is accepted by another publisher. Withdrawal can be completed via Submittable. Reading fees are not refundable.
11.Confirmation of receipt will be sent via e-mail by Submittable immediately after submission. An announcement of our shortlist and winner will be sent to all entrants via email through Submittable, and posted on the Press 53 website, blog, Facebook and Twitter on the dates indicated above.

If you have any questions or concerns other than technical issues with the submissions manager, please contact Press 53 founding editor Kevin Morgan Watson.

Submissions for the Press 53 Award for Poetry will open April 1, 2014.