The Jake Adam York Prize

Spring 2017, Issue 24

Order / Subscribe


Copper Nickel and Milkweed Editions are thrilled to announce that judge Ross Gay has chosen ANALICIA SOTELO‘s book Virgin as the inaugural winner of the Jake Adam York Prize for a first or second poetry collection. Sotelo will receive $2,000 and Virgin will be published by Milkweed Editions in February 2018.

Sotelo holds an MFA from the University of Houston and currently works at Writers in the Schools in Houston. Her chapbook Nonstop Godhead was selected by Rigoberto González for a 2016 Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship, and her poem “I’m Trying to Write a Poem about a Virgin and It’s Awful” was selected by Tracy K. SMith for Best New Poets 2015. Sotelo’s poems have also appeared or are forthcoming in the New Yorker, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Iowa Review, and The Antioch Review.

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

Caylin Capra-Thomas, All Lit Things Predict Their Own Demise
Kelly Davio, The Book of the Unreal Woman
Dante Di Stefano, Ill Angels
Charles Jensen, Nanopedia
Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Interrogation Room
Mia Malhotra, When I See You Again, It Will Be with a Different Face
Bernard Matambo, Stray
Andrew McFadyen-Ketchum, Visiting Hours: Poems
Brianna Noll, When We Were Mist
Molly Spencer, Relic and the Plum
Ryann Stevenson, The New Midwest
Nomi Stone, Kill Class
Greg Wrenn, Sanctuary
Jenny Xie, Eye Level
Kim Young, Tigers

An astonishingly good group of semifinalists were:

Nikia Chaney, us mouth
John Lee Clark, Goldilocks in Denial
Brian Clifton, Muzzle
James Ellenberger, Yes Rushes to Meet the Wound
Leah Falk, To Look After and Use
Landon Godfrey, Doubts
Mark Gosztyla, Be Missing
Julie Hanson, View-Master
Gary Jackson, amnesiac
Virginia Konchan, Blackstar
Tyler Mills, Salt Masks
Chad Parmenter, vivienne’s recovery
Kate Partridge, Northern Ledger
Michelle Peñaloza, Former Possessions of the Spanish Empire
Vivian Faith Prescott, Bitter Water People
Corey Van Landingham, Lover Letter to Who Owns the Heavens
July Westhale, Blythe

And because screeners do essential—if too-often unsung—evaluative work narrowing the field of entrants, we want to note who our screeners were (both to say thank you and in the interest of transparency):

Brian Barker, author of The Black Ocean
Nicky Beer, author of The Octopus Game
David J. Daniels, author of Clean
Sean Hill, author of Dangerous Goods
Sara Michas-Martin, author of Gray Matter
Wayne Miller, author of Post-
Emily Perez, author of House of Sugar, House of Stone
Chris Santiago, author of Tula

We should also say: 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 around the manuscripts among the screeners until no one was tasked with screening work by anyone s/he had published or knew personally. We believe strongly in running an ethical contest, and we’ve tried to ensure that we’ve done so.



The Jake Adam York Prize for a first or second book-length 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.

The judge for 2017 will be VICTORIA CHANG. Chang is the author of four poetry collections: Barbie Chang (Copper Canyon, 2017; forthcoming); The Boss (McSweeney’s, 2013), which won the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the California Book Award; Salvinia Molesta (Univ. of Georgia, 2008); and Circle (Southern Illinois UP, 2005). Her poems have appeared in American Poetry ReviewThe Believer, The Kenyon Review, The NationNew England Review, New Republic, Poetry, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Best American Poetry.

The prize-winning poet will receive $2,000 and publication by Milkweed Editions in February, 2019.

Initial screening for the prize will be facilitated by the editors of Copper Nickel. (All screeners for the prize will have published at least one book of poetry.)


For the 2017 prize we will begin accepting online submissions of book-length (i.e., more than 48 pages) poetry manuscripts in July, 2017. The final due date for submission will be October 15, 2017.

To be eligible, poets cannot have published more than one full-length book of poetry. (Chapbooks and individual poems in magazines are OK.) Poets who are family, current colleagues, close friends, or recent students (within the past three years) of the judge are not eligible to enter.

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

Manuscripts can—but don’t have to—include work previously published in journals and chapbooks. (If the manuscript includes previously published work, please include an acknowledgments page.) Previously self-published books, however, are ineligible.

All identifying marks—including the author’s name and acknowledgments—will be removed before the finalist manuscripts are forwarded to the judge.

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 distributes through Publishers Group West (PGW)—can offer these things. We at Copper Nickel are grateful and excited for their partnership.

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

Here’s the link one more time: SUBMIT.