2023 College Undergraduate Poetry Competition

Submission Period: December 1, 2023 - January 31, 2024


Two winners will be chosen for the College Undergraduate Poetry (CUP) Competition, one receiving the Edna Meudt Memorial Award; the other receiving the Florence Kahn Memorial Award. For each winner, prizes include:

● $500 cash prize.

● Publication of the manuscript as a perfect-bound 6"x9" chapbook & marketed through Amazon.com.

● 75 free copies of the chapbook. 

● Invitation to read from winning work at the 2024 NFSPS Convention

● $300 travel stipend, if attending the convention in person. 

● Complimentary registration for the entire convention.

● Complimentary dinner on the evening the winners read. (Winners are responsible for the balance of their convention costs, e.g., meals and lodging, and for any guests who accompany them).

● Complimentary one-year membership in an NFSPS-affiliated state poetry society of the winner's choosing and in NFSPS. 

● Book release at the NFSPS annual convention. While winners are present at the convention, they will be assisted in selling their stock of books directly and/or in the convention book room and will receive all proceeds from those sales.

Note: Except for the complimentary books provided to the winners and sold at the convention, the manuscripts will be available for purchase through Amazon.com, and all royalties will be retained by NFSPS.

Undergraduates working toward a degree in an accredited U.S. college or university during the contest submission period are eligible to enter the CUP Competition. 


Application and Manuscript. Complete the application form and upload your manuscript file online at https://nfsps.submittable.com/submit. The manuscript must be a single document that contains only your title page and table of contents followed by ten poems. Once you have uploaded the file, you cannot make edits. Acceptable file formats include .doc and .docx (MS Word) and .pdf.

Fees. There is a $10.00 contest submission fee and no charge to open an account at Submittable.com. You may keep your Submittable account permanently. 

Submission Period. An electronic switch will open the Submissions function in the first minute of December 1, 2023, and close it automatically at midnight Pacific Standard Time on January 31, 2024. 
Make sure you know your local time relative to PST. Students in Hawaii and Alaska are advised to submit no later than January 30. Indeed, we urge every entrant to submit early so that our committee can advise if you encounter problems; we likely cannot help if you wait until the last day of the contest. 

Simultaneous Submissions. Simultaneous and multiple submissions (with an additional entry fee) are permitted. Notify us immediately to withdraw your submission if your manuscript is accepted elsewhere. Entry fees will not be refunded for withdrawn submissions.erase

Alternative Submission Request. Approval by the contest chair prior to January 15, 2024, is required to enter the competition by any other means than online submission as described above. She will decide on a case-by-case basis whether to accept paper manuscripts. Unauthorized paper manuscripts or e-mailed manuscripts will not be accepted. If the chair approves an alternative submission, she will provide you instructions on how to proceed. Send your name, address, telephone number, and email address with your request to CUP Chair Jessica Temple at 4thvicepresident@nfsps.net. If she allows a paper submission, it must reach her by noon, January 30, 2024.

MANUSCRIPT GUIDELINES: Not following ALL guidelines disqualifies a submission.

No Identification. There must be no author identification on any page of the manuscript; no information that could disclose your identity. Do not include a bio note, acknowledgments, or blurbs.

Title Page, Table of Contents, and Ten Poems. The manuscript will include only the title page, a table of contents, and ten (10) original, unpublished poems. All ten (10) poems must be unpublished. Note that poems posted on a public website or public social media are considered published. You will be required to confirm that your poetry is original and unpublished.

Titles. Except for haiku and related Japanese forms, each poem must be titled. 

Erasure poems and others derived from prose. Contestants may not use any material copyrighted by another author as the basis for their poems. Please identify any source and verify that it is in the public domain. Epigraphs are allowed with proper attribution.

Title Page. The first manuscript page will include only the manuscript title, centered both vertically and horizontally on the page and followed by a page break.

Table of Contents. The second manuscript page will be a table of contents listing the title of each poem in the order in which they appear, followed by a page break. You may include the page numbers with the titles if you wish.

Poem Arrangement. The third page of your manuscript will be the first of your ten poems, with the others following in the order they would appear in a chapbook. Insert a page break after the text for each poem.

Fonts and Spacing. Use a 12-point standard font (e.g., Times New Roman) in black text. Colored text and script, fancy, or unusual fonts will not be accepted. Single-space your poems and start lines at the left margin, unless you are clearly using spacing as a poetic device. If you write in long lines or complex formats, be aware that the winning book will be published in a 6" x 9" format, which may not allow them to be preserved. No illustrations, color type, or fancy fonts.

Page Numbers. Pages numbered. Begin each poem on a new page. Poems may continue over two or more pages, but do not put more than one poem on a page.

Auxiliary pages (dedication, acknowledgments, cover letter, bio, etc.)  Do NOT include these in your initial entry. If you win, you will be asked for a brief biography, and will have opportunity to include the other elements during the editing phase.

Literary Standards. While we honor the First Amendment right of free speech, be aware that any profanity used must be necessary to the literary integrity of your poem. Our judge will view the gratuitous use of profanity as a crutch for shoddy craftsmanship or as cliché that has lost its shock value. The NFSPS will not give prizes for, nor publish work, that perpetuates derogatory stereotypes, nor will it accept work that is obscene, prurient or sexually graphic, hate-mongering, or abusive of any social, racial, ethnic, religious, or gender group.


Judging. Manuscripts will be screened for compliance with contest rules. Up to 60 entries will be sent to a judge who will remain anonymous until the winners are announced. Manuscripts are judged blind (identified only by machine-generated number) from those entries complying with all contest guidelines. Decisions are final.

Notification of Winners. By email, around March 12th, entrants will be notified of who has won and/or placed in the competition. Winners will be announced in the April issue of Strophes, the NFSPS newsletter, available at nfsps.com.

Contact Information. If there is any change in your contact information before results are announced, please notify Jessica Temple by email at 4thvicepresident@nfsps.net. Be sure to provide a mailing address that will be valid even after the spring semester ends.