Press 53, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, is a publisher of award-winning poetry and short fiction collections, and was founded in October 2005.

  We ignore market trends and publish writing we love.

  We publish 8-10 poetry collections each year, including titles under our Tom Lombardo Poetry Selections, edited by Tom Lombardo; our Silver Concho Poetry Series, edited by Pamela Uschuk and William Pitt Root; plus the winner of our annual Press 53 Award for Poetry.

  We publish 5-6 short fiction collections each year by widely published and award-winning authors. 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).

Prime Number Magazine is 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.

And check out our free monthly 53-Word Story Contest sponsored by Prime Number Magazine.

  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,

Kevin Morgan Watson, Publisher and Editor in Chief

Welcome to our fourth annual "Prime 53 Poem" Summer Challenge! 

This is a free contest to celebrate a poetry form invented in 2019 by Press 53 poetry editor Christopher Forrest and publisher & editor in chief Kevin Morgan Watson: the Prime 53 Poem.

Open to writers around the world!

This summer challenge runs from June 1 until July 31, midnight Eastern time (US). Sorry, no exceptions.

The challenge is to write a Prime 53 Poem, and our top four poems, judged by Chris and Kevin, will be published in Issue 229 of Prime Number Magazine on October 1, 2022

Four winners will receive a free paperback book of their choice from Press 53, unless the writer resides outside of the United States (or one of its territories), the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, or the United Arab Emirates. Anyone residing outside these countries will receive publication only (our printer has printing facilities in the countries mentioned, which makes it affordable for us to print and ship books to these areas).

Your poem must adhere to the following rules:· Total syllable count of 53

· Eleven total lines

· First three stanzas are three lines each with a 7 / 5 / 3 syllable count

· Final stanza must be two lines with a 5 / 3 syllable count, for a total syllable count of 53

· Rhyme scheme (slant/soft rhymes work) aba cdc efe gg

The total line count is a prime number (11), the syllable count in each line in first three stanzas is a prime number (7 / 5/ 3), and the syllable count in each line of the last two-line stanza is a prime number (5 / 3), making the poem’s total syllable count a prime number (53).  

Prime 53 Poem Sample 

Road trips, beaches, and one-wish

trips, backdrops for your

reading lists.

Why not, too, write poetry?

Count your syllables:


Pens and pads, your tools to pack.

Leave ideas there, bring

poems back.

You will feel better,

and smarter.

Four winners will be announced via Submittable, and on the Prime Number Magazine and Press 53 Facebook pages, Twitter pages, and to our subscribers (get your free subscription at  By entering this competition, the author grants Press 53/Prime Number Magazine First Serial Rights to publish their Prime 53 Poem in Issue 229 of Prime Number Magazine and the right to permanently archive the poem on our website. All other rights revert to author upon publication on October 1.

The 2022 Prime Number Magazine Flash Fiction Prize, open June 1 – July 31

Open to writers around the world! (must be 18 years of age or older to enter)

First Prize: $251 (a prime number) and publication (All winners published in Issue 229 of Prime Number Magazine, October 1, 2022)

Second Prize: $151 (a prime number) and publication

Third Prize: $53 (a prime number dear to us) and publication

Winners will be announced no later than August 31, 2022

Open: June 1, 2022

Deadline: July 31, 2022, midnight Eastern (US)

Reading fee: $11 (a prime number). Entries will only be accepted through Submittable, your online submissions manager.

Judges: Press 53/Prime Number Magazine editorial team

Winners Announced: by August 31, 2022

How to Enter:

· Submit one unpublished story that is no more than 751 words (please include word count), double-spaced in 12-pt. type with numbered pages.

· Multiple entries require separate reading fees.

· Reading fee is $11 per entry and is nonrefundable.

· The judging process is “blind,” so author’s name should not appear anywhere on or in the story.

· Writer will be prompted by Submittable to give name and contact information so no cover letter is necessary.

· Open to any writer anywhere in the world whose entry is unpublished, written in English, and who is at least 18 years of age.

· Authors who have published a book with Press 53 are not eligible to enter.

· Entries will only be accepted through Submittable, your online submissions manager.

· Requests to open your entry for editing via Submittable cannot be accepted after the deadline.

· Writer is asked to withdraw the submission through Submittable should the story be accepted for publication elsewhere. If entry is withdrawn, reading fee is not refundable and entry cannot be replaced with another piece.

· The winning story must remain unpublished until it appears in Prime Number Magazine, otherwise the prize and publication will be forfeited.

· Cash prize awarded upon publication. ​ Prime Number Magazine is granted First Serial Rights with the right to archive the story indefinitely. All other rights revert to author upon publication.

· Confirmation of entry will be sent via e-mail by Submittable immediately after submission. An announcement of our winners will be sent to all entrants via email through Submittable, and posted on Facebook, Twitter and on the Press 53 website contest page.

Questions should be directed to the publisher, Kevin Morgan Watson, at

The 2023 Press 53 Award for Poetry is open for entries April 1 - July 31, 2022. Please read our guidelines before entering.

Award includes:

Publication by Press 53 of the winning poetry collection as a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection, a $1,000 cash advance, and 50 copies

The Press 53 Award for Poetry is awarded annually to an outstanding, unpublished collection of poems. This contest is open to any writer, regardless of his or her publication history, who is 18 years of age or older, provided the manuscript is written in English and the author lives in the United States or one of its territories.

Dates for submission: April 1, 2022—July 31, 2022. Submissions will close at midnight Eastern Standard Time on July 31. (Note: Deadline can be extended at the discretion of Press 53.)

Winner and Finalists announced: The winner of the Press 53 Award for Poetry will be announced on or before November 1, 2022, on the Press 53 website, and via email, Facebook, Twitter, and by email through Submittable. We will also include a list of finalists.

Award: The author of the winning manuscript will receive a cash advance of $1,000, publication of the manuscript in April 2023 as a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection under a standard Press 53 book contract, and 50 copies of the completed book with an option to purchase unlimited copies at a discount for as long as the book is in print. Advance awarded upon publication.

How to submit: Enter here using Submittable.

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 for this contest; the contest will be judged solely on the strength of the poems as a collection.

Eligibility: The competition is open to manuscripts written in the English language from writers at all levels, 18 years of age or older, who live in the United States or one its territories.

Ineligibility: 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 approximately 50 to 120 pages in length. We do not favor one length over the other. We are only concerned with the quality of the poems.

2. The author's name should not appear on the manuscript. This is a blind read.

3. Manuscript should include a Table of Contents with numbered pages.

4. An acknowledgments page for previous publication of poems in the manuscript is not necessary, but may be included.

5. Use a standard, easy-to-read font such as 11- or 12-point Times New Roman, Garamond, etc.

6. Poems previously published in journals, magazines, or anthologies, and poems that have won awards, may (and should) be included in the manuscript. Poems from chapbooks are fine, but please use only a reasonable number of poems, not the entire chapbook.

7. Previously published collections are not eligible, including self-published collections available as ebooks or in print. Entire chapbooks should not be part of the collection.

8. Authors may submit more than one manuscript to the competition for consideration. Each submission will require a separate reading fee.

9. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but please withdraw your manuscript if it is accepted by another publisher. Withdrawal can be completed via Submittable by opening your submission and clicking "Withdraw" in the upper-right corner of your screen. Reading fees are not refundable.

10. 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, Facebook, and Twitter on the dates indicated above.

11. The Deadline for entering is July 31, midnight Eastern Time (US). Requests to edit a manuscript will not be honored after the deadline. If a manuscript is withdrawn, it cannot be replaced with another manuscript, but you may enter another manuscript before the deadline, which would require another reading fee.

If you have any questions or concerns other than technical issues with Submittable, please contact

Press 53