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cow creek chapbook prize

congratulations to e.d. watson for winning the 2023 cow creek prize with her chapbook, via dolorosa and advent wreath

Here's what this year's judge, Chad Abushanab, had to say about E.D.'s chapbook: 

On the subject of political poems, Carl Dennis writes that the best of them “present speakers who try to be honest about the limits of their positions, who recognize that the best political choices are not ideal… that the good they bring is often accompanied by some harm.” He calls for a political poetry that doesn’t begin with an agenda, but rather shows a speaker coming to hard-won truths, often at the expense of their own comfort. 


E.D. Watson’s “Via Dolorosa” and “Advent Wreath” fit nicely into this paradigm and take full advantage of what such an approach offers its readers. Initially driven by a desire to re-awaken a sense of faith, the speaker arrives in Jerusalem hoping the Holy Land will spark within them, again, the belief in a higher power. What unfolds instead is a journey that moves away from the self as the speaker comes face to face with the systematic oppression of the Palestinian people. 


While most contemporary poetry turns increasingly inward, we find here a refreshing desire to accept oneself as largely insignificant in the greater drama of existence — to instead become a conduit for revelations bigger than the personal. “The only way back is inwards,” the speaker tells us at the close “Advent Wreath,” which implies the way forward must be outward. This outward motion is one of the defining achievements of Watson’s book. In these poems, truth comes from dissolving oneself in the violence of history and attempting the impossible task of reconstituting on the other side. 

Preorder your copy on December 1!

E. D. Watson is a poet, yoga teacher, and certified Practitioner of Poetic Medicine from Central Texas. She is the author of two collections, Honey in the Vein, and Anorexorcism, and her poems can be found in numerous journals and magazines. When she isn’t writing, she leads poetry and yoga workshops, designed to release trapped language from the body to enhance healing and self-knowledge. She believes poetry is alive and well, and is for everyone.

also a big congratulations to this year's finalists:


Like Shining from Shook Foil by Christian Teresi

Future Elegies by Bryce Emley

Aubade with Factory and Rain by Tatiana Gomez

Offerings by Dana Salvador

Orpheus After by Patridge Boswell

Plastic Mausoleum by Tegan Murrell

Little Thistles by Stacey Forbes

A Little Music for the Soft War by Mark Sevenfold

My Paper Boat by Shannon Hallam

the 2024 contest opens february 15

The Cow Creek Chapbook Prize is a poetry chapbook contest brought to you by Pittsburg State University. 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, 2024 and close on May 15, 2024.


Chase Dearinger

Peter Vertacnik


editorial staff:

Chloe Hanson

Taylor Johnson

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. 

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