Above: 2015 Poetry winner Bonnie Bolling; 2014 Poetry winner Wendy Barker; BkMK Press offices on the campus of UMKC; 2014 Fiction winner Lenore Myka; 2015 Fiction winner Rachel Hall

Ciardi- and Chandra-winning books have gone on to receive reviews or features in such venues as:

Publishers Weekly, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews, ForeWord Reviews, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, Kansas City Star, Slate, Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac, etc.

and won or placed in such awards as:

the Poets’ Prize, Eric Hoffer, IPPY, ForeWord, Chautauqua longlist, Balcones Fiction, Devil’s Kitchen, Midland Authors, Towson Prize of Maryland, etc.

Click here for a list of past winners and judges.

Contest closed.

Check back this summer for 2017 guidelines.

Please read guidelines below before submitting.

Submissions should include:
  • Typed manuscript on standard-sized paper, bound only with a clip or rubberband (no staples or permanent binding). Or 1 MS Word document or PDF. In English.
  • Poetry manuscripts: approximately 50-110 pages, single spaced.
  • Short fiction collections: approximately 125-300 pages, double spaced.
  • Two title pages within the manuscript (not as a separate file): (click here for samples)
    a) title only (no author information)
    b) title, author name, address, phone number, email
  • Table of Contents within the manuscript (not as a separate file).
  • SASE for notification regarding winner. No manuscripts will be returned.
  • Non-refundable entry fee of $25 (plus $5 processing fee for each manuscript submitted electronically) (US funds).
  • Uploaded files should have the same name as the manuscript

Mail to:
John Ciardi Prize for Poetry or Sharat Chandra Prize for Fiction 
BkMk Press
5101 Rockhill Road
University of Missouri-Kansas City 
Kansas City, MO 64110

Manuscripts must be postmarked or submitted online no later than January 15, 2016.

  • No faxed or emailed submissions, please.
  • Simultaneous and multiple submissions are acceptable. Please notify us of acceptance elsewhere.
  • Current students and employees of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and current volunteer members of the New Letters and BkMk Press staffs, are not eligible.
  • Manuscripts will not be returned. No refunds will be issued.

Email bkmk@umkc.edu with questions or concerns. Or call 816-235-2558.

Judging will be blind at all levels. Initial judging will be done by a network of published writers and editors. The final judging will be done by a poet and a fiction writer of national reputation. 2016 winners will be announced August, 2016 and the winning entries will be published in 2017. These competitions are held annually.

BkMk Press supports the CLMP Code of Ethics for literary contests.

Entrants will receive a copy of the winning book in their genre when it is published.


Kansas City Literary Events

Pam Gout & Justin Runge

Thursday, May 26, 2016
Lawrence, Kan.


BkMk Press Book Wins IPPY Award

Evan Morgan Williams won the gold medal for short fiction for his book Thorn.


Clarion Awards Selection CD Special

Jamaica KincaidJim ShepardGloria Vando & Anika ParisLuis Alberto Urrea, and Alex George, normally $7.99 per episode, this cd collection comes with over $15.00 in savings. Downloads of these programs have been reduced and are available through our archives.