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The Barry Spacks Poetry Prize is awarded annually for an unpublished book-length manuscript of 48-100 pages. The Spacks Prize honors the first poet laureate of Santa Barbara and his legacy of clear yet challenging work. Submissions are accepted between January 1 and April 30. The prize includes $500 and publication by Gunpowder Press with 50 author copies.

Final judge for the 2022 Spacks Prize is Danusha Laméris. She is the author of The Moons of August (Autumn House, 2014), which was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the Autumn House Press poetry prize and was a finalist for the Milt Kessler Book Award. Some of her poems have been published in: The Best American Poetry, The New York Times, The American Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, The SUN Magazine, Tin House, The Gettysburg Review, and Ploughshares. Her second book, Bonfire Opera, (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020), was a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, and winner of a 2021 Northern California Book Award. The 2020 recipient of the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award, she teaches poetry independently, and is a Poet Laureate emeritus of Santa Cruz County, California. She is currently on the faculty of Pacific University's low-residency MFA program.

How to Submit: Entry fee is $20. $25 includes entry and copy of the winning book ($15 cover price).  Word .doc or .docx preferred. Please include a table of contents and a page which acknowledges previous publication of individual poems. Entrant's names will be removed from manuscripts presented to the final judge. We ask that close friends or students of the judge show respect for the judge by refraining from submitting work for this award. Due to our desire to respect international copyright, submissions are accepted from poets within the United States only.

Previous Spacks Prize Winners:

  • The 2021 Spacks Prize winner is Todd Copeland for his manuscript Like All Light, just released by Gunpowder Press.
  • The 2020 Spacks Prize was awarded to Meghan Dunn for her manuscript Curriculum, selected by Jessica Jacobs. Peg Quinn's manuscript Mother Lode was also selected for publication as an Editors' Choice.
  • The 2019 Spacks Prize was awarded to Glenn Freeman for his manuscript Drinking with O'Hara, selected by Stephen Dunn.
  • The 2018 Prize was awarded to Michelle Bonczek Evory for her book, The Ghosts of Lost Animals, selected by final judge Lee Herrick.
  • The 2017 Prize was awarded to Aaron Baker for his book Posthumous Noon, selected by final judge Jane Hirshfield.
  • The 2016 Prize was awarded to Kurt Olsson for his book Burning Down Disneyland, selected by final judge Thomas Lux.
  • The inaugural Spacks Prize was awarded to Catherine Abbey Hodges in 2015 for her book Instead of Sadness, selected by final judge Dan Gerber.

About Gunpowder Press: Founded in 2013 by David Starkey and co-edited by David Starkey and Chryss Yost, Gunpowder Press is an independent poetry press located in Santa Barbara, California.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.