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Gatewood Prize

Judge: Joy Priest

Dates: January 1, 2021 - March 31, 2021 

Contest Fee: $20 (or $28 with a book from our catalog)

The Gatewood Prize is Switchback Books’ annual competition for a first or second full-length collection of poems by a woman. It is named after Emma Gatewood, the first woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.​​

This year's judge is Joy Priest. Joy Priest is the author of HORSEPOWER (Pitt Poetry Series, 2020), winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. She is the recipient of the 2020 Stanley Kunitz Prize from the American Poetry Review and her poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, The Atlantic, and Poetry Northwest, among others. Her essays have appeared in Bitter Southerner, Poets & Writers, ESPN, and The Undefeated, and her work has been anthologized in A Measure of Belonging: 21 Writers of Color on the New American South (Hub City Press, 2020), and Best New Poets 2014, 2016, and 2019. Priest received her M.F.A in Poetry, with a certificate in Women & Gender Studies, from the University of South Carolina, and she is currently a doctoral student in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Houston.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Our definition of “woman” includes all self-identified women, including transgender and all other female-identified individuals.
  • Writers must have no more than one previous collection of poems (48 pages or longer) published or under contract. Chapbooks, broadsides, and other shorter publications do not affect eligibility.
  • Manuscripts by close friends and former students of the judge or editors are ineligible. If the judge or editors would recognize your manuscript for any reason, please do not enter the contest.
  • Individual poems from the manuscript may have been published previously in magazines, chapbooks of less than 48 pages, or anthologies, but the collection as a whole must be unpublished.
  • Simultaneous submissions are permitted. Please let us know immediately if your manuscript is accepted by another publisher while under our consideration.​
  • Co-written collections are eligible provided both poets meet all eligibility requirements.
  • Translations ineligible.
  • Entries that do not meet these terms may be disqualified. Please email editors@switchbackbooks.com with any questions.

Manuscript Requirements:

  • Manuscripts should be between 48 and 80 pages, paginated.
  • Please remove any identifying references from your manuscript (including those in the body of the manuscript).
  • Please include a cover letter with a one-paragraph bio and list of acknowledgments in the cover letter box on Submittable; do not upload a cover letter as the first page of your manuscript and do not include your acknowledgments in the manuscript document.
  • Table of contents recommended.
  • Multiple submissions are acceptable, but each manuscript must be entered under separate cover and fee.
  • No revisions to submitted manuscripts will be considered; the winning manuscript may be revised before publication.

Switchback editors will read all submissions and select finalists to send on to the judge, who will choose the final winner. You will be notified of your submission status via email. Winners and finalists will be announced on our website in the summer.