The Winner

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 2017-18 winner.)

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

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.) The winner is announced in late February or 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 distributes through Publishers Group West (PGW)—can offer these things. We at Copper Nickel are grateful and excited for their partnership.


GUIDELINES for 2018-19

For the 2018-19 prize we will begin accepting online submissions of book-length (i.e., more than 48 pages) poetry manuscripts in July 2018. The final due date for submission will be October 15, 2018. The prize winner will be announced in late February 2019.

The judge for 2018-19 will be Mark Doty, author of nine poetry collections—most recently Deep Lane (W. W. Norton, 2015)—and winner of the 2008 National Book Award (among many other awards).

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

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 editors of Copper Nickel are also ineligible.

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 are ineligible for submission, as are co-authored books.

Self-published books count as previous 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 was distributed through Amazon, and/or has [or had] a web presence—even a very limited one—that counts as a previously published book.)

All identifying marks—including the author’s name and acknowledgments—will be removed before the finalist manuscripts are forwarded to the judge. For this reason, please include two cover pages in your manuscript—one with your name and address, one with only the title.

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 try to 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 Victoria Chang has chosen JOHN MCCARTHY‘s book Scared Violent Like Horses as the winner of the 2017-18 Jake Adam York Prize.

Scared Violent Like Horses will be published by Milkweed Editions in February 2019, and McCarthy will receive $2,000.

John McCarthy is the author of one previous poetry collection, Ghost Country (Midwestern Gothic Press, 2016), which was named a Best Poetry Book of 2016 by the Chicago Review of Books. His work has appeared in Best New Poets 2015, Columbia Poetry Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Minnesota Review, Redivider, Sycamore Review, and elsewhere. The recipient of an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale, McCarthy serves as the managing editor of Quiddity International Literary Journal and Public Radio Program. He is from Springfield, Illinois.

There were more than 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:

Craig Beaven, Natural History
Emily Bludworth de Barrios, Having Stumbled in a Thicket of Shadowy Desires
Diana Delgado, Tracing the Horse
Melissa Dias-Mandoly, Fusion Figures
Lukas Hall, loudest when startled
Carlie Hoffman, This Alaska
Gary Jackson, origin story
Michael Lavers, After Earth
Rebecca Lehman, Ringer
Rachel Mennies, Salt
Jenny Qi, I will be somewhere else yesterday
Ryan Teitman, The Dream Protects the Dreamer
Michael Torres, Homeboys with Slipped Halos
Ellen Wehle, Eden Underwater
Jihyun Yun, Some Are Always Hungry

The semifinalists were:

Charlie Clark, Summer Music
Ena Djordjevic, Bells in the Afterlife
Matt Morton, Spring if Anything
Emily Skaja, Brute
Alissa Valles, Hospitality
Corey Van Landingham, Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens
Devon Walker-Figueroa, Be Thou—
Cori Winrock, A Real Spacesuit Is an Envelope of Earth Conditions

And because screeners do essential—if too-often unsung—work narrowing the field of entrants, we want to note who our 2017-18 screeners were (both to say thank you and in the interest of transparency):

Brian Barker, author of The Black Ocean (Southern Illinois, 2011)
Carolina Ebeid, author of You Ask Me to Talk About the Interior (Noemi, 2016)
Janine Joseph, author of Driving Without a License (Alice James, 2016)
Shara Lessley, author of The Explosive Expert’s Wife (U of Wisconsin, 2018)
Randall Mann, author of Proprietary (Persea, 2017)
Wayne Miller, author of Post- (Milkweed, 2016)
Juan Morales, author of The Siren World (Lithic, 2015)
Khadijah Queen, author of I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On (YesYes, 2017)

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 in running an ethical contest, and we consistently try to ensure that we’ve done so.