cow creek chapbook prize

the 2021 contest is open!

The Cow Creek Chapbook Prize is a poetry chapbook contest brought to you by Pittsburg State University and Emerald City. We're open to all styles and subjects. As long as the poems challenge and capture the imagination, we want to see them. The winning poet will receive $1,000 and 25 author copies. The next contest will open on February 15, 2021.

this year's guest judge: kayleb rae candrilli

Photo Credit: Beowulf Sheehan, 2019

Kayleb Rae Candrilli is a 2019 Whiting Award Winner in Poetry and the author of Water I Won’t Touch, Copper Canyon Press 2021, All the Gay Saints, Saturnalia 2020, and What Runs Over, YesYes Books 2017. You can read more of Candrilli’s work here.

casey thayer's love for the gun is available for order

Love for the Gun Cover.jpg


  • Submit 15-30 pages of poetry with a $15 entry fee by May 15, 2021.

  • Simultaneous submissions are fine, but please let us know if the chapbook is accepted elsewhere.

  • Multiple submissions are also fine, but each chapbook must be submitted separately.

  • It’s okay if individual poems have been previously published (or if they are accepted over the course of the contest), but the arrangement of poems must be an original work.

  • Submissions are read blind, so please don’t include your name or other identifying information anywhere on the manuscript.

  • An acknowledgements page is welcome but not required.

  • Past or present students of Pittsburg State University and individuals directly connected to the judge are not eligible to submit.

“In Love for the Gun, the TEC-9 trappings of masculinity—“big guns, small bore”—are usurped, remixed & rearranged, until the rifle becomes a blunt instrument of intimacy between hunter & frail son: “I worked / at growing softer, held the pistol / like a hurt bird, perhaps a swallow. / Not like my father, as a man might do.” These poems are double-barreled in their approach: Ecstatic & elegiac. Reverent & irreverent. They are anthems for love & loss of god & country that modulate, expertly, between intellect & levity. Stirring with vulnerability & lyric precision, Casey Thayer’s aim is true.”

–Marcus Wicker, author of Silencer and Maybe the Saddest Thing

editorial staff:


John Andrews

Ellie Davis

Alysse Gopalakrishnan

Chloe Hanson

Grace Hendrickson

Taylor Johnson

Kayla McCullough

Megan Munger

Peter Vertacnik

Spencer Young

Winniebell Zong

questions? contact us:

thanks, you'll hear from us soon


We subscribe to the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses Contest Code of Ethics. Guidelines and issues of conflict of interest can be found above. Part of that code is making our process transparent to the public. All chapbooks are initially read by the editorial staff. Exceptional chapbooks then go to a second round of readers, who narrow potential winners down to a limited number of finalists, which are sent to the guest judge for selection.