Washington, D.C.                                                                                                  JULY 2, 2016

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The 2016 Washington Prize

Jessica Cuello of Syracuse, NY, wins for her manuscript Hunt, a collection of poems based on Moby Dick, but now from the female point of view.

Cuello's book will be published in time for the 2017 AWP conference, and is the 30th Washington Prize book to be chosen.

From 346 submissions, ten finalists finally emerged, and we applaud the incredible work that they and our entire community of poets shared with us this year.


Denise Bergman (MA): Chapter One 
Sarah Browning (DC): Killing Summer 
Sharon Chmielarz (MN): The J Horoscope 
Jennifer Givhan (NM): Protection Spell*
E.J. Koh
(WA): A Lesser Love 
Anne Pelletier
(NV): Letter That Never 
Lucy Ricciardi
(CT): All of the Above 
Jay Simmons
(NH): An Atlas of Hands  Camille-Yvette Welsch (PA): The Four Ugliest Children in Christendom 
*withdrawn due due acceptance elsewhere!
Annually, five judges discuss until they  achieve consensus, choosing a single book to receive the award. A new judge cycles into the group each year, so taste and perspective continue to evolve. 

"These poems re-open Moby Dick in the spirit  of revisionist feminism, and they work as brilliant metaphor," said new judge Carrie Bennett. 
The winner receives beautiful book design, publication of a run of at least 750, 100 author copies, and fully-engaged author support for promotional work.

Announcement is made in Poets & Writers
and there is a $1500 prize.

Congratulations to Jessica and to all the finalists from the readers, editors, and contest judges at The Word Works!  
FAQ for The Washington Prize  
Last year's winner, Barbara Duffey (right), with her book
Simple Machines at the 2016 AWP Bookfair, and one of her fans, Word Works president Nancy White.

If I have entered before and did not win, should I try again?
  • We think so. We route returning manuscripts to new readers each year.
How should I present the submission?
  • We ask everyone to omit identifying information from the manuscript itself, copying it instead to the NOTES field in your submission process online. The online submissions manager will keep that organized for us, backstage, so that we can read unencumbered by preconceptions.
  • Books submitted accidentally with acknowledgments pages included have had to be printed so that the information can be removed, and they are then routed to "paper readers." Please save a tree and remove all your identifying information!
What do you need to know about my previous publications?
  • Your track record has no bearing on whether you win or not. We look at no information until after the judges have made their final decision. The Washington Prize has gone to first books, second books, third books...You name it. 
What does the reading fee do?
  • Reading fees are used to help cover book production and promotional costs, to pay the prize money to the winner, and to supply all entrants (those who would like to receive one) a copy of the winning book. 
Past Washington Prize winner Love-in-Idleness by John Bradly, second edition (2015) 

Check out our spiffed-up website, made possible by the hard work and Xtreme Zapskills of Chelsea Adams, Chadams Web Consulting.

Newly organized as well as beautifully groomed, the site will practically navigate itself for you now, with more to come, including origami poetry, video poems, live recordings of readings,   and of course THE best book covers, thanks to our talented designer, Susan Pearce.