Judge: Ilya Kaminsky
Awarding publication of a book-length collection, a Four Way Books sponsored reading, and $1000.
Submission Dates: January 1 – March 31, 2024. 
Eligibility: Open to any poet writing in English regardless of publication history.
Submissions accepted online only.
Please read the following instructions carefully:


General Guidelines (for all submitters)

Submit a previously unpublished, full-length poetry manuscript, in English.

Material in your manuscript may have been published previously in a chapbook, magazines, journals or anthologies, but the work as a whole must be unpublished.

You may include a list of acknowledgments if you wish.

Please use a legible 12-point font.

Do not include artwork.

Translations and previously self-published books are not eligible.

There are no length requirements save that book-length collections of poetry usually run between 48 and 80 pages of text.

You may submit multiple manuscripts, but each must be treated as an individual submission, submitted separately, and each requires an entry fee of $30.00 per submission. Each must have complete contact info, etc.

If you pay the entry fee but fail to submit your manuscript by the deadline, your fee will not be returned.

Please let us know immediately if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere.

Your work will be disqualified if your name or contact info appears on the manuscript. Our online form via Submission Manager will capture your contact information.

We consider using AI to generate your manuscript, in whole or in part, disqualifying. Such manuscripts will be rejected outright and no refund will be offered.  

In the event of a condition beyond our control (website down, internet down, power outage,  or other extreme circumstances), the deadline will be extended and notice will be given along with the reason for the extension.

Due to the cost of running an independent press and the capacity of our small-but-mighty staff, it is a necessity that we charge submission fees for our reading periods. However, we do not want to exclude writers who cannot afford a reading fee, whose work is equally valuable and necessary in the world. We offer a limited number of fee waivers each reading period—as many as we are able, on a first come first serve basis. Please contact us (editors@fourwaybooks.com) if you need one, and we will provide it if we have not yet reached our cap. Thank you for sharing your writing with us.

UPDATE: We have reached our cap for fee-waivers for this reading period. Thank you for your enthusiasm and grace as we formally implement waivers in our submission model. We have allocated as many waivers as we can afford, and we will continue to do so in future reading periods. Because our waivers are limited, we disperse them on a first-come first-serve basis. Thank you for understanding and for sharing your work with us.  

Online submissions:

The winner will be notified by email or phone no later than Labor Day. Submitters will be notified by email only. The result will also be posted on our website and on social media by Labor Day. 

We do not offer editorial feedback to submitters.

Our Reading Policy

Each manuscript is delivered to our readers as a blind submission. That is, it is stripped of identifying material. Only the manuscript, inclusive of any text notes, is sent to the readers and if chosen as a finalist, to the judge. We do not give a list of submitters or titles to the judge.

Please do not submit to this contest if you are close enough to Ilya Kaminsky that his integrity, your integrity, and the integrity of Four Way Books would be called into question should you be selected as the winner. You may query us if you have questions regarding this matter. Please query by email to editors@fourwaybooks.com.

Our preliminary readers for the contest are selected by the director of the press and are published poets, experienced editors, and/or poets who have received a graduate degree in creative writing or literature. Each manuscript is read by at least two readers. We rotate our readers seasonally so that those writers who wish to re-submit to Four Way Books can be assured that their manuscript(s) will receive fresh “reads.” We do not employ students to read manuscripts.

Our readers select approximately 50 manuscripts as finalist selections. They look for work that is beautifully crafted, manuscripts that feel whole and well-shaped. They do not try to second-guess a judge’s preference. Rather, they look to present a wide range of excellent work to the judge.

On occasion, a judge may ask to see more work but the judge is not allowed to ask for specific work by a specific writer but may ask to see a wider sampling of strong work. If that is the case, the press reviews the submissions again and more manuscripts are sent to the judge as finalists. Therefore, we do not inform the public of finalist selections since that list may grow after the first culling.

The judge is instructed to notify the press of any indiscretions. If a submitter contacts the judge regarding the contest, that person will be disqualified. If the judge does not select a winner, the press’s director, and senior editors will select a finalist’s manuscript to publish.