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 3-4 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


The 2025 Press 53 Award for Poetry Award includes: Publication by Press 53 of the winning poetry collection as a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection; $1,000 cash advance; 53 copies. If a Runner-Up is selected, the runner-up will receive publication by Press 53 as a Tom Lombardo Poetry Selection, a $500 advance, and 25 copies.

The Press 53 Award for Poetry is awarded annually to an outstanding, unpublished collection of poems. This competition 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, 2024–July 31, 2024. 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 and finalists will be announced on or before November 1, 2024, on the Press 53 website, and via email, Facebook, and by email through Submittable.

How to submit: Submit here with 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 years of age or older, who live in the United States or one its territories. Note: 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; we will only be reading the poems.  

5. Use a standard, easy-to-read font such as 11- or 12-point Times New Roman, Minion, 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. Selected poems from chapbooks are fine, but please use only a reasonable selection of poems, not the entire chapbook.

7. Previously published collections are not eligible, including self-published collections available as ebooks or in print.

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 and a withdrawn manuscript cannot be replaced with another manuscript.

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, and Facebook on the dates indicated above.

11. The Deadline for entering is July 31. 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 the submissions manager, please contact Kevin Morgan Watson, Publisher & Editor in Chief

Press 53