Best New Poets is an annual anthology of fifty poems from emerging writers. The anthology began in 2005 under series editor Jeb Livingood with George Garrett serving as
the first guest editor. Our audience has grown over the years, in large part due to the efforts of Jazzy Danziger when she served as series editor from 2011 to 2015, and the book is currently
distributed nationally as a University of Virginia Press title and produced in cooperation with
Meridian, a semiannual literary magazine from the University of Virginia.
Bookstores and other outlets interested in stocking Best New Poets can place orders via Longleaf here.
The anthology takes submissions from three sources:
- nominations from literary magazines in the United States and Canada,
- nominations from graduate-level writing programs in the United States and Canada, and
- entries from an annual open competition.
All entries go into a single blind pool where readers rank the submissions. A finalist pool of 150 to 300 poems then goes to a guest editor for review, and that guest editor selects
the final fifty poems for the book.
||Nominations from programs and magazines begin
||Program and magazine nominations close
||Open Competition begins
||Open Competition ends
||Fifty final selections announced
Jeb Livingood will continue as series editor in 2017, and Natalie Diaz will be our guest editor.
Your open competition requires a reading fee? Why?
All of the money from entry fees goes directly into producing the anthology or paying our readers and editors.
Not a penny goes to support outside projects. We don’t publish Best New Poets to make money—the series just covers
its cost of production. The series editor and guest editor receive only a nominal sum for their time.
Readers also receive modest pay to offset the hours they spend with your work.
Do the magazine and writings program nominees pay an entry fee?
No, those are free nominations.
We wanted broad participation and decided that some free nominations were essential, and also a very good way
to reward organizations that support emerging poets.
Who reads my work and what feedback will I get?
Former Meridian staff and editors form the backbone of our reading pool. They rate your material in an online database. Alas, we cannot show you their brief remarks. We receive thousands of submissions and have to move through them as efficiently as we can.
How does your judging process work?
Six to seven readers take an initial cut at the submitted manuscripts and rate them. The readers review the manuscripts blindly, and every manuscript gets at least one reading. Some receive additional readings when the first reader wants a second opinion or believes another reader might judge the poem more fairly. We pass somewhere between 150 and 300 semi-finalists to the guest editor, who selects our fifty winners. The guest editor also reads blindly, seeing only a tracking number. He/she then reports the fifty winning numbers back to the series editor, who "unblinds" the entries and contacts the winners.
When will you announce the list of winners?
We will announce our final fifty poets in August by posting the results on our website and Facebook pages, and by notifying entrants through our submission system.
Do you publish the names of all the poets whose work is sent to the guest editor?
No, we do not publish the names of the semi-finalists who go to the editor, only the fifty selected poets. While some magazine competitions do publish a list of semi-finalists, this is usually when they have one winner and a handful of runners-up, not fifty winners and hundreds of semi-finalists. We do sometimes quietly contact a few runners-up in case we have a winning poem that turns out to be ineligible.
What kind of poetry do you like?
Each pool of readers has its own eclectic tastes, and the guest editor changes every year. We’re not usually wildly experimental or postmodern, but we’re open to poets who push boundaries. Our best advice is to just submit your best work.
I'm unpublished. Do I have a shot?
Absolutely. Because our readers read blind, it all comes down to the quality of the poem on the page.
I published a chapbook. Does that make me ineligible?
No. We love chapbooks, but for the purpose of this anthology, we do not consider them "book length." You may enter the competition.
What is your distribution?
We typically print about 2,500 books, and roughly 2,100 of those go out to bookstores. Thanks to a partnership with the University of Virginia Press, we are distributed through Ingram and Baker & Taylor directly to stores near you, as well as online retailers.
Who publishes this book?
The book is currently produced by Meridian and Samovar Press, a press founded by the first series editor to create Best New Poets. The University of Virginia Press features the book in its catalogue and distributes it nationlally and online.