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cow creek chapbook prize

order you copy of the 2021 winner, mel ruth's a name among bone.

Praise for A Name Among Bone:


“In A Name Among Bone we thumb the threads of the familial. Threads as thematic, threads as textile—as the linen passed down from generation to generation. We tether our dead closer with language, with utterance, with the history we shout at our landscapes. Mel Ruth knows that each one of us with blood is a historian. And, among the threads we thumb in this chapbook, so many mirrors. A hall of mirrors, revealing ghosts that are also our angels. Who hasn’t studied their eyes’ reflection, searching for ancestors? Drawn, with fingertips, the bridge of our noses in hunt for all the blood that bore us? A Name Among Bone hands us the fabric of a family. We are so lucky to hold it, if only briefly.”

–Kayleb Rae Candrilli, Contest Judge and author of Water I Won't TouchAll the Gay Saints, and What Runs Over


“Confronting family lore, race, and grief through a “genealogy [that’s] only ever known holes,” these poems fashion a creation myth from fragments of life-long stories told to the speaker, stories which blur the line between facts and the desire for something to be true. “But how do I gauge / the weight of memory?” the speaker asks, and Mel Ruth offers up these image-saturated lyrics in an attempt to answer.”

–Sandy Longhorn, author of Blood Almanac, The Girlhood Book of Prairie Myths, and Alchemy of My Mortal Form

A Name Among Bone Cover 1.jpg

the 2022 cow creek chapbook prize is open! 

Submit 15-30 pages of poetry with a $15 entry fee by May 15, 2022.

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


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


It’s fine if individual poems have been previously published or if one is 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.


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

Mel Ruth is a PhD student at Georgia State University, with a focus on poetry. Mel has pieces published in Pleiades, Emerson Review, New Pages, and more. They were a Slice Literary Magazine “Bridging the Gap” Finalist, and their chapbook A Name Among Bone, was a semi-finalist in the 2020 Black River Chapbook Contest, and the winner of the 2021 Cow Creek Chapbook contest. They/them or she/her/hers. Follow them on Twitter @_Mel_Ruth_.

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 contest opens February 15 and closes May 15. 

陳琛 / Chen Chen’s second book of poetry, Your Emergency Contact Has Experienced an Emergency, is forthcoming from BOA Editions and Bloodaxe Books (UK) this September. His debut, When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities (BOA, 2017; Bloodaxe, 2019), was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. His work appears in many publications, including Poem-a-Day and three editions of The Best American Poetry. He has received two Pushcart Prizes and fellowships from Kundiman, the National Endowment for the Arts, and United States Artists. He teaches at Brandeis University as the Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence and serves on the poetry faculty for the low-residency MFA programs at New England College and Stonecoast.


this year's judge is chen chen

editorial staff:

Ellie Davis

Chloe Hanson

Grace Hendrickson

Taylor Johnson

Megan Munger

Peter Vertacnik

Spencer Young

Winniebell Xinyu 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.