The New Letters Literary Awards

The New Letters Literary Awards

$4,500 in awards for writers | Deadline:  May 19, 2014.

The $1,500 New Letters Prize for Poetry for the best group of three to six poems.

The $1,500 Dorothy Cappon Prize for the best Essay.

The $1,500 Alexander Cappon Prize for Fiction, for the best short story.


Upload your writing online by midnight Monday, May 19th. Entries sent after midnight May 19th cannot be considered or refunded. Please note that our annual deadline is May 18th; however, because the deadline falls on a Sunday this year, we will accept entries throughout the 19th. Please read guidelines carefully to insure best service.  For a printable version of the guidelines, click here.

Postmark by May 19, 2014.

Mail Entries to:
New Letters Awards for Writers
UMKC, University House
5101 Rockhill Road
Kansas City, MO  64110-2499

Enclose with each entry:

  • $15 for first entry; $10 for every entry after. Entry fee includes the cost of a one-year subscription, renewal, or gift subscription to New Letters, shipped to any address within the United States.  (Subscriptions mailed outside the U.S. require a $15 postal surcharge.)  Make checks payable to New Letters.
  • Two cover sheets: the first with complete name, address, e-mail address, phone number, category, and title(s); and the second with category and title only.  Your personal information should not appear anywhere else on the entry.  For sample cover sheets, click here.
  • A stamped, self-addressed postcard for notification of receipt and entry number.
  • A stamped, self-addressed envelope for a list of winners.  This is optional.  Please send only one envelope if submitting more than one entry.


  • Simultaneous submissions of unpublished entries are accepted with proper notification upon acceptance elsewhere.
  • All entries will be considered for publication in New Letters.
  • Fiction and essay entries should not exceed 8,000 words.  A single poetry entry may contain up to six poems, and those poems need not be related.
  • Multiple entries are accepted with appropriate fees.  Please make cover sheets for each entry of fiction, essay, or group of poems.
  • Manuscripts will not be returned.
  • No substitutions after submissions.  No refunds will be offered for withdrawn material.
  • Current students and employees of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, and current volunteer members of the New Letters and BkMk Press staffs, are not eligible.


New Letters established its Awards for Writers in 1986 to discover and reward new writers and to encourage more established writers to try new genres or new work in competition.  The contest is open to any writer.  In order to assure fairness throughout the decision process, all judging is done anonymously and by writers outside the New Letters staff, with two rounds of judges making finalist and winner decisions.  For final judges from previous years, please see the list below.

Finalists are notified in mid-August.  The second round of judges selects one winner and one runner-up in each category, which are announced the third week of September. First runners-up receive a courtesy copy of a recent book of poetry or fiction from our affiliate BkMk Press. Judges have the option to select work for second runner-up and honorable mentions. All finalists are listed in the New Letters issue in which the winners are published. These and all other entries will be considered for publication by the New Letters editor.

Previous Awards Final Judges and Winners (1986 to Latest)

Interview with Robert Stewart, editor of New Letters (conducted by Jendi Reiter for Poetry Contest Insider).

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