Chapbook Contest Guidelines

QuillsEdge Press 2017 Chapbook Competition

Theme: In Transition

Judge: Judith Vollmer

Dates: 10/01/2017 – 1/15/2018

Welcome to the QuillsEdge Press – Indispensable Poetry by Women Over 50. Our 3rd annual chapbook competition opens October 1st, 2017, judged by Judith Vollmer.

Our 2017 theme is In Transition – movement, passage, or change from one position, scene, identity, state, stage, subject, concept, etc., to another.

We are looking for poetic voices that challenge us, stun us, give us pause and palpitations. We are open to well-crafted work in any style: lyrical, narrative, form, prose poem or experimental innovations and new mixes. We want to read, hear and be moved to wonder, laugh and cry as we discover your individual threshold. We applaud both the sensitive and the strident.   

We Believe in Equity!

Because we actively support equity in poetry and publishing, and value the lives and perspectives of marginalized communities, we are offering a contest fee of $3.00 for self-identified Women of Color, including Black, Latina, Asian/Pacific Rim, Indigenous women, LGBTQIA , neurodiverse and differently-abled women. This fee is also offered to those with a family income of less that $25k a year. Please know that we don’t want the submission fees to be a barrier to entry; if this presents a serious hardship for you, please contact us regarding a fee waiver.

Submission Guidelines

Submissions open October 1st, 2017 and close at 11.59pm on January 15, 2018. We only accept entries via Submittable.


You are eligible to enter if:

  1. You are a woman (We respect gender self-definition).
  2. You are, as of the entry date, aged 50 or older.
  3. You either may or may not have published any other book or chapbook – either is okay. We’ll get every manuscript a thorough reading, and we welcome writers who are, like us, late bloomers.
  4. The contest is open to women worldwide, not just from the United States of America.

Manuscript Requirements

  1. Your manuscript should not have been published previously. Individual poems may be previously published.
  2. Your manuscript should be 16-30 pages.
  3. Multiple submissions are accepted, with a separate reading fee.
  4. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please let us know immediately if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere. We really mean this – every manuscript will be read by at least two readers, all volunteers, who take every work seriously. If your manuscript is out of the running we need to know.
  5. Manuscripts translated into English are also welcome, as long as the original poet is a woman above the age of 50.
  6. We also accept manuscripts that are part original work and part poetry in translation.

Contest Fees

  1. The fee to enter the competition is $10.00 .
  2. Because we actively support equity in poetry and publishing, we are offering a contest fee of $3.00 for self-identified Women of Color, including Black, Latina, Asian/Pacific Rim, Indigenous women, LGBTQIA, differently-abled women and those with a family income of less than $25k a year.
  3. For an extra $7.00 you can choose to receive either a winning chapbook from the 2017 contest OR one of the chapbooks we have published from our previous contests. This is a discount of the cover price!
  4. For an additional $25.00 you can receive a personal one page to two page review of your manuscript from one of our QuillsEdge staff or Board Members.


The winner will receive 20 copies of the chapbook free, and will be able to buy additional copies at cost. Books will be staple bound with full color covers, premium paper, and careful attention to detail.

Winners will become part of the QuillsEdge Press community, and may be asked to participate as a reader for future competitions and to contribute short chapbook reviews of other women poets to our website. Our goal is to build a community for women writers over 50.

If the winner is able to travel at her own expense, readings can be set up in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania or Colorado. Finalists who can travel at their own expense to these locations may also be invited.


We will select one poem from each of the finalists to include in a mini-anthology as part of the chapbook. Finalists will receive 2 complimentary copies of the book and the ability to order additional copies at cost.

Our judging process:

We Subscribe to the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) Contest Code of Ethics

CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines—defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage.

1st Round of Judging: Manuscripts will be read blind by QuillsEdge Press readers. Entries will be narrowed down to 25 finalists.

2nd Round of Judging: Finalists will be read by QuillsEdge Press readers. 10-15 finalists will then be forwarded to the contest judge, Judith Vollmer, for final determination.

3rd Round of Judging : Anonymous read and final determination by the contest judge, Judith Vollmer.

Conflicts of Interest: Current or former students, faculty, staff, or administrators affiliated with the Drew University MFA in Poetry and Poetry in Translation are ineligible. Close friends, relatives, students, and former students of the Judge and QuillsEdge Press staff and board members are ineligible. Readers will not be assigned work by any poet they know.

Formatting Guidelines

This year we will only be accepting online submissions. If you require accommodation due to being differently abled, please email us.

  1. Submit your manuscript without any identifying info. Your name should not appear anywhere on the file name or the manuscript.
  2. The title of the manuscript should be QEP2017_[Insert your Manuscript title here].
  3. Do NOT include acknowledgments. If you’re selected as a finalist or winner, we’ll request your acknowledgments at that time
  4. Manuscripts must be paginated and have a table of contents. Each poem must begin on a new page.
  5. Please include a short bio in the “cover letter” field. Make it personal. We’re more interested in learning about who you are, than in seeing your publication history.
  6. If you encounter any problems, please email us at
  7. Please use only the Times New Roman Size font 12 point size for all your submissions.