The Peseroff Prize Poetry Contest

prize: $1000 and publication in our next forthcoming issue

fee: $10

“Whenever something new develops in poetry, many will argue, ‘That’s not poetry.’ Think of the reception of William Carlos Williams . . . spoken word poets, poets who incorporate graphics, poets who write in code so robots can read them. It’s all poetry.” –Joyce Peseroff

The Peseroff Prize honors Joyce Peseroff’s work as a poet, teacher, editor, innovator, and mentor. She helped found the MFA Program in Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts Boston, served as its first director, and retired from teaching in 2014.

Submit up to three poems and a $10 entry fee. There are no restrictions on content or form: “it’s all poetry.” Poems should be previously unpublished. All entries will be considered for publication. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify Breakwater if submission is accepted elsewhere. 

 

2021 FINALIST JUDGE: Chen Chen

"It’s essential to me that I’m not just writing another poem for the sake of having written something. I want to be surprised, deliciously startled into a deeper aliveness. An important 'test' for a poem is whether I feel that I’ve made some real discovery through the act of writing. Have I learned something? Do I experience an aspect of the world or of myself differently? Is the poem saying something that, before it existed, was unsaid, unsayable (for me)? Or is the poem making room for the unsayable to exist more freely, with all its fuchsia tentacles waving?"

–Chen Chen

 

Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the Thom Gunn Award, among other honors. His work appears/is forthcoming in many publications, including Poetry and three editions of The Best American Poetry (2015, 2019, and 2021). He has received a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from Kundiman and the NEA. He teaches at Brandeis University and also serves on the faculty for the low residency MFA programs at New England College and Stonecoast. With Sam Herschel Wein, he runs the journal Underblong

Submissions: Open FEBRUARY 1 - APRIL 15

Winner and Finalists will be published in our next forthcoming issue.

Please do not submit your work if you are associated with the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston or the Finalist Judge.

The Breakwater Fiction Contest

prize: $1000 and publication in our next forthcoming issue

fee: $10

 

“I think to really be an artist, to really inhabit that, you have to accept on some level that you are not going to belong. Being an outsider, for instance, can be like being an observer...I just had to tell myself that one day, being on the periphery would become an asset (and I think it finally has, as a creative adult).” Porochista Khakpour

We are seeking submissions for pieces that breathe freshness to the form. We are interested in previously unpublished prose ranging from 1,000 - 4,000 words, each with a $10 entry fee. All entries will be considered for publication. We accept simultaneous submissions, but please notify Breakwater if submission is accepted elsewhere.

 

2021 FINALIST JUDGE: Porochista Khakpour 

 

Porochista Khakpour is the author of four critically acclaimed books, most recently Brown Album: Essays on Exile and Identity (Vintage Books, 2020), which Ploughshares called “fearless.” In 2018 she published the memoir Sick (HarperCollins), which Kirkus Reviews praised as “lucid, eloquent, and unflinchingly honest.” Among her many fellowships is a National Endowment for the Arts award. Currently, she is a guest faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA) and Stonecoast's MFA programs, as well as Contributing Editor at The Evergreen Review.

 

Submissions: Open OCTOBER 1 - DECEMBER 1

Winner and Finalists will be published in our next forthcoming issue.

 

Please do not submit your work if you are associated with the MFA program at the University of Massachusetts, Boston or the Finalist Judge.

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RECENT WINNERs

2021

BREAKWATER FICTION CONTEST

Christopher Berardino, Dog Bait, selected by Porochista Khakpour

         

           finalists:  Hanna Mahon, One Person Tent

                         Katherine Gutierrez, Handover Notes

                         Virginia Marshall, My Dearest

                         Brenda Salinas Baker, Dearly Domesticated

THE PESEROFF PRIZE IN POETRY

TBD

2020

BREAKWATER FICTION CONTEST

Melissa Bowers, The Acquittal, selected by Susanna Kaysen

         

           finalists:  Krystal Song, Security

                         G.M. Monks, To Help You Experience My Feelings

THE PESEROFF PRIZE IN POETRY

Tarik Dobbs, Anti-Drone Niqab Made From Silver, selected by Oliver Baez Bendorf

       

         finalists:   Jose Luis Pablo, Ghazal for a Queer Boy's Hands

                         Monica OngShooting Stars

                         Karah Kemmerly, once I was weightless

                         Elana Lev Friedland, Your Internet connection is unstable

                         Alex Chertok, Speech to Text

                         Sara Elkamel, The Book of Two Experiences

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