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. Not a penny goes to support outside projects.
We publish Best New Poets not to make money, but because we believe in helping emerging poets. The series editor volunteers her time, and guest editors receive only a nominal sum. Each member of the reading pool gets a modest stipend of a few hundred dollars.
We'd like to think that we keep our side of the bargain. We make every effort to show you the status of your manuscript throughout its time with us, and work hard to keep you informed of the reading pool's progress through our Facebook and Twitter pages. We're trying not to be "just another contest," and we're happy to consider your suggestions on ways to improve our process. Let us know your thoughts.
Do the magazine and writings program nominees pay an entry fee?
Those are free nominations. Magazines and writing programs are 1) generally broke, and 2) encumbered by bureaucratic processes that make paying such fees difficult. We wanted broad participation and decided that some free nominations were essential. It's also a 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 hundreds of submissions and have to move through them as efficiently as we can. Workshopping poems or crafting responses that an author might read would slow down our readers and cause big delays for the anthology's production.
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, so they don't know the author's name. 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 50 winners. The guest editor also reads blindly, seeing only a tracking number. He/she then reports the 50 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 50 poets in August by posting the results on our blog and emailing all of the entrants.
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 50 selected poets. While it is true that some magazine competitions do publish the names of their semi-finalists, this is usually when they have one winner and a handful of runners-up, not 50 winners and hundreds of semi-finalists. We do sometimes quietly contact a few runners-up in case we have a winner who turns out to be ineligible.
What kind of poetry do you like?
Each pool of readers has its own range of eclectic tastes, and the guest editor changes every year. If you want, you could consider the writing style of this year's guest editor. But our best advice is to just submit your best work. (Do what you do best!)
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?
Our 2015 print run was 2,700 books. Thanks to a partnership with the University of Virginia Press, we are distributed through Ingram and Baker & Taylor directly to bookstores. You will see the anthology on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com, and all the usual online outlets as well.
Who publishes this book?
The book is currently produced by Meridian and Samovar Press, a press founded to produce Best New Poets.
And here are a few reviews of past Best New Poets: