Judges and Winners

Above, see winners and judges of the 2015 Literary Awards: Fiction judge Jayne Anne Phillips, Fiction winner Cady Vishniac, Essay judge Floyd Skloot, Essay winner Mindy Lewis, Poetry judge Ellen Bass, & Poetry winner Elizabeth Haukaas. (Follow link above for last year's results.)  

$4,500 in awards for writers | Deadline: May 18, 2016

The $1,500 New Letters Prize for Poetry

for the best group of three to six poems.

The $1,500 Dorothy Cappon Prize for Nonfiction

for the best Essay. 

The $1,500 Alexander Cappon Prize for Fiction

for the best short story.

 Online Entry Page


Upload your writing online by midnight Wednesday, May 18th. Entries sent after midnight May 18th cannot be considered or refunded. Please read guidelines carefully to insure best service.  For a printable version of the guidelines, click here.

Postmark by May 18, 2016.

Mail Entries to:
New Letters Awards for Writers
UMKC, University House
5101 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO  64110-2499

Enclose with each entry:

  • $20 for first entry; $15 for every entry after. If entering online, add a $5 service charge to entry fee.  A one-year subscription, renewal, or gift subscription to New Letters, shipped to any address within the United States, is included in the price of the first entry.  (Subscriptions mailed outside the U.S. require a $15 postal surcharge.)  Make checks payable to New Letters.
  • Two cover sheets: the first with complete name, address, e-mail address, phone number, category, and title(s); and the second with category and title only.  Your personal information should not appear anywhere else on the entry.  For sample cover sheets, click here.
  • A stamped, self-addressed postcard for notification of receipt and entry number.
  • A stamped, self-addressed envelope for a list of winners.  This is optional.  Please send only one envelope if submitting more than one entry.


  • Simultaneous submissions of unpublished entries are accepted with proper notification upon acceptance elsewhere.
  • All entries will be considered for publication in New Letters.
  • Fiction and essay entries should not exceed 8,000 words.  A single poetry entry may contain up to six poems, and those poems need not be related.
  • Multiple entries are accepted with appropriate fees.  Please make cover sheets for each entry of fiction, essay, or group of poems.
  • Manuscripts will not be returned.
  • No substitutions after submissions.  No refunds will be offered for withdrawn material.
  • 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.


  • Finalists are notified in mid-August, after preliminary judging.
  • Final judging selects one winner and one runner-up in each category, announced the third week of September.
  • Judges have the option to select work for second runner-up and honorable mentions.
  • All finalists are listed in the New Letters issue in which the winners are published.
  • These and all other entries will be considered for publication by the New Letters editor.

Online Entry Page


New Letters established its Awards for Writers in 1986 to discover and reward new writers and to encourage more established writers to try new genres or new work in competition.  The contest is open to any writer.  In order to assure fairness throughout the decision process, all judging is done anonymously and by writers outside the New Letters staff, with two rounds of judges making finalist and winner decisions.  For final judges from previous years, please see the list below.

Previous Awards Final Judges and Winners (1986 to Latest)

Interview with Robert Stewart, editor of New Letters (conducted by Jendi Reiter for Poetry Contest Insider).



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.