- 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 writing 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 writers.
- Who reads my work and what feedback will I get?
Current University of Virginia MFA students 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 semifinalists to the guest editor, who selects our fifty winners. The guest editor also reads without knowing poet names, seeing only a tracking number. He/she then reports the fifty winning numbers back to the series editor, who "unmasks" 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No, we do not publish the names of the semifinalists who go to the editor, only the fifty selected poets. While some magazine competitions do publish a list of semifinalists, this is usually when they have one winner and a handful of runners-up, not fifty winners and hundreds of semifinalists. 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 masked/anonymized submissions, 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 Longleaf directly to stores near you, as well as online retailers.
- Who publishes this book?
The book is currently produced by 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 nationally and online.