The Winners

The Jake Adam York Prize

The Jake Adam York Prize for a first or second poetry collection is a collaboration between Copper Nickel and Milkweed Editions.

Book-length manuscripts can be Submitted via Submittable from July 1 through October 15. (See the Guidelines. See information about the 2018-19 winner.)

The prize-winning poet receives $2,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions.

Initial screening for the prize will be facilitated by the poetry editors of Copper Nickel. (All screeners for the prize will have published at least one book of poetry.) The winner is announced in early March.

Our goal in instituting the Jake Adam York Prize is to honor Jake’s name and legacy with a top-tier, ethical book prize that will offer not just publication but also high-quality design, marketing, and strong national distribution­. Milkweed Editions—which has an excellent marketing team and national distribution through Publishers Group West (PGW)—can offer these things. We at Copper Nickel are grateful and excited for their partnership.


GUIDELINES for 2019-20

For the 2019-20 prize we will begin accepting online submissions of book-length (i.e., more than 48 pages) poetry manuscripts on July 1, 2019. The final due date for submission will be October 15, 2019. The prize winner will be announced in early March, 2020.

Our judge is FRANCINE J. HARRIS, author of play dead (Alice James, 2016)—which won the Lambda Literary Award, the Publishing Triangle Award, the Audre Lorde Award, and was a finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award—and allegiance (Wayne State UP, 2012), which was a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Open Book Award. Harris has won the Boston Review Poetry Contest and has received fellowships from Cave Canem and the NEA. She teaches at the University of Houston.

To be eligible for the prize, poets cannot have published—or have under contract—more than one full-length book of poetry. (Chapbooks of less than 48 pages and individual poems in magazines are OK.)

Self-published books count as previous book publications if they are at least 48 pages and saw any real distribution whatsoever. (I.e., if your self-published book has an ISBN, and/or has been distributed through Amazon, and/or has had a web presence—even a very limited one—that counts as a previously published book.)

Previously self-published books are ineligible for submission for the prize, as are co-authored books.

Poets must be US Citizens (living abroad is fine) or must live in the US and be writing in English.

Poets who are family, current colleagues, close friends, or recent students (within the past three years) of the judge are not eligible to enter. Former student editors and interns of Copper Nickel and Milkweed Editions are also ineligible.

Entrants to the Jake Adam York Prize are welcome to submit to other Milkweed Editions prizes (the Ballard Spahr Prize, the Max Ritvo Prize, and the National Poetry Series). All these prizes are facilitated differently and, each year, have different judges.

Manuscripts can—but don’t have to—include work previously published in literary periodicals and/or chapbooks. If your manuscript includes previously published work, please include an acknowledgments page.

Final judging for the prize is anonymous. For this reason, please do not include your name or other identifying marks on the manuscript itself. (We will be able to obtain that information from Submittable, and the information will not be forwarded to the final judge.)

All entrants will receive a one-year subscription to Copper Nickel (worth $20) in exchange for a $25 reading fee, and all money raised beyond production costs for the prize will go toward paying Copper Nickel contributors.

Please note that when you submit your work to the Jake Adam York Prize you’re adding yourself to our contact list and, thus, consenting to receiving infrequent emails about our book prize, subscriptions drives, etc. We send no more than 2-3 of these emails per year.

Here’s the link one more time: SUBMIT.



Copper Nickel and Milkweed Editions are thrilled to announce that judge Mark Doty has chosen BROOKE MATSON’s book In Accelerated Silence as the winner of the 2018-19 Jake Adam York Prize.

In Accelerated Silence will be published by Milkweed Editions in February 2020, and Matson will receive $2,000.

Brooke Matson is the author of one previous poetry collection, The Moons, published by Blue Begonia Press in 2012 and included in the 2015 Blue Begonia Press boxed set, Tell Tall Women. Her poems have appeared most recently in Poetry Northwest, Potomac Review, Prairie Schooner, and Willow Springs. The 2016 recipient of the Artist Trust GAP Award with Centrum Residency, Matson lives in Spokane, Washington, where she is the executive director of Spark Central, a non-profit dedicated to igniting creativity, innovation, and imagination.

Of the book, Mark Doty says: “Brooke Matson’s In Accelerated Silence begins with an ode addressed to dark matter; she’s ‘relieved / you’re here to hold the aching / stars apart.’ The cosmos aches, as it did for Orpheus, and for the poet of Gilgamesh, because the beloved has been lost, and as it did for Eve, once she could see that every living thing was mortal. Matson mourns the loss of an irreplaceable other, but the person who speaks to us in these poems seems almost to multiply and blur into alternate dimensions, admitting the losses of many. Inclusive, generous, both carefully observed and daringly philosophical, these poems reconfigure the elegy for this moment, praying to the ‘Dear wild unknown’ to ‘tow the borders of this universe far beyond our grasp.’”

There were nearly 800 submitted manuscripts, which our screeners narrowed to 16 finalists and 8 semifinalists. It’s our opinion that every one of these manuscripts is outstanding and imminently publishable.

The finalists were:

Dana Alsamsam, Before the House Went Silent
Katie Condon, Praying Naked
Leigh Ann Couch, I Am a Bird and I Am Dirt
Tracy Fuad, about: blank
Alexandria Hall, Field Music
Julie Hanson, View-Master
Gary Jackson, origin story
Annie Kim, Uses for Music
Kara Krewer, Animals in Silent Movies
Max McDonough, Egg Harbor
Emily Pittinos, The Last Unkillable Thing
Jacques J. Rancourt, Brocken Spectre
Iliana Rocha, The Many Deaths of Inocencio Rodriguez
Martin Rock, Every Cloud Is Power
Jane Wong, How To Not Be Afraid of Everything

The semifinalists were:

Lucy Alford, Annals
Jason Bradford, Stellaphasia
Fay Dillof, Tips for Observing Mammals in the Wild
Nava EtShalom, The Knives We Need
Carlie Hoffman, This Alaska
Angelo Mao, Abattoir
Frances Schenkkan, Whitewash
Arhm Wild, Split to Shape

And since screeners do essential—if too-often unsung—evaluative work narrowing the field of entrants, we think it’s important to note each year who our screeners are (both to say thank you and in the interest of transparency). This year’s screeners were:

Brian Barker, author of Vanishing Acts (Southern Illinois, 2019)
Michael Bazzett, author of The Interrogation (Milkweed, 2017)
Nicky Beer, author of The Octopus Game (Carnegie Mellon, 2015)
Sean Hill, author of Dangerous Goods (Milkweed, 2014)
TJ Jarrett, author of Zion (Southern Illinois, 2014)
Wayne Miller, author of Post- (Milkweed, 2016)
Alicia Mountain, author of High Ground Coward (U of Iowa, 2018)
Diana Khoi Nguyen, author of Ghost Of (Omnidawn, 2018)

Finally, we want to mention something briefly about our process: Since a number of entrants had previously published in Copper Nickel, and since other entrants knew one or more of our screeners on a personal level, we were sure to pass the manuscripts among the screeners until no one was tasked with screening work by anyone s/he had published or with whom s/he had a personal relationship. We believe strongly in running an ethical contest, and we work hard to ensure we do so.