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 2021-22 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 2022–3

For the 2022–3 prize we will begin accepting online submissions of book-length (i.e., more than 48 pages) poetry manuscripts on July 1, 2022. The final due date for submission will be October 15, 2022. The prize winner will be announced in early March, 2023.

Our judge for 2022–3 is AMAUD JAMAUL JOHNSON. Raised in Compton, California, Johnson is the author of three poetry collections: Imperial Liquor (Pitt Poetry, 2020), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Rilke Prize; Darktown Follies (Tupelo, 2013), which won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award; and Red Summer (2006), which won the Dorset Prize. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, Johnson has published work in American Poetry Review, Kenyon ReviewThe New York Times Magazine, The Southern ReviewThe Best American Poetry, and elsewhere.

To be eligible for the prize, poets cannot have published—or have under contract—more than one full-length book of poetry in English. (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.)

Separate books published in English abroad also count toward eligibility, but not books reprinted abroad or published in another language. (I.e., if you published one book in the US and a different book in the UK, you would be ineligible to submit, but if you published a book in the US and that book was reprinted in the UK, you would still be eligible. If you published one book in the US in English and another book in, say, Poland in Polish you would still be eligible to submit to our prize as long as the book you were submitting to our prize was a not a translation of the book you published in Poland in Polish.)

Previously self-published books are ineligible for submission for the prize, as are translations and 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 book prizes, including the other Milkweed Editions prizes (the Ballard Spahr Prize, the Max Ritvo Prize, and the National Poetry Series). If your manuscript wins another prize, please notify us and withdraw your manuscript from the Jake Adam York Prize.

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 perhaps 1–2 emails per year about our book prize, subscriptions drives, etc.

Here’s the link one more time: SUBMIT.



Copper Nickel and Milkweed Editions are thrilled to announce that judge Dana Levin has chosen Christopher Brean Murray’s book Black Observatory as the winner of the 2021–22 Jake Adam York Prize. Black Observatory will be published by Milkweed Editions in February, 2023, and Murray will receive $2,000.

Christopher Brean Murray has received awards from the Academy of American Poets and Inprint Houston, and he served as online poetry editor of Gulf Coast. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Bennington Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, New Ohio Review, Washington Square Review, and other journals. He lives in Houston.

In choosing Murray’s book, Levin says: “Its very strangeness, its eccentric lenses on cis masculinity, and its simple, formal elegance called me to Christopher Brean Murray’s Black Observatory. Reading these poems is like embarking on a Twilight Zone episode where Franz Kafka bumps into Salvador Dali in a hardware store, and dark, absurdist adventures ensue; where ‘Crimes of the Future’ involve ‘Quitting a job everyone agrees you should keep’ and ‘Kissing a foreigner in a time of war.’ There’s sweetness here too, and deep thought and feeling—this is a singular debut by a singular sensibility: no one else sounds like Murray.”

There were 984 manuscripts submitted to the prize this year, which our screeners narrowed to 28 additional finalists. It’s our opinion that every one of these manuscripts is outstanding and eminently publishable. With that in mind, the finalists were:

Kiran Bath, Instructions for Banno
Katie Berta, retribution forthcoming
Joshua Burton, Grace Engine
Emily Cinquemani, Open Orbit
Julia Edwards, The Royal You
Yael Hacohen, Starts with 767
Brett Hanley, The Worry Dimension
Michael Homolka, Against Indulgences
Dana Jaye, Armaments
L. A. Johnson, Late Light Nights
Luke Johnson, Liner Notes to Benjamin
Michael Juliani, The World Is Not Astonished
Maja Lukic, Before
Erin Lynch, The Long No Longer
Michael Metivier, Advection Blues
Theresa Monteiro, Under This Roof
Teo Mungaray, Three Bloods
Monica Ong, Planetaria
Nina Pick, The Night Horses
Hannah Louise Poston, Julia Hungry
Mira Ronsenthal, Atlas of Invisible Maps
Deborah Schupack, The Way We Live Now
Will Schutt, Impressions of a Person
Simon Shieh, Master
J. Sysko, The Daughter of Man
David Winter, Lament with Cello Accompaniment
Maya Jewell Zeller, out takes/ glove box
Nikki Zielinski, Gowned for Fire

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:

Nicky Beer, author of Real Phonies and Genuine Fakes
Hayan Charara, author of These Trees, Those Leaves, This Flower, That Fruit
Michael Kleber-Diggs, author of Worldly Things
Wayne Miller, author of We the Jury
Miguel Murphy, author of Shoreditch
Emily Pérez, author of What Flies Want
Chris Santiago, author of Tula
Kathryn Smith, author of Self-Portrait with Cephalopod
Seth Brady Tucker, author of We Deserve the Gods We Ask For
Devon Walker-Figueroa, author of Philomath

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 she had published or with whom she had a personal relationship. We believe strongly in running an ethical contest, and we work hard to ensure that we continue to do so.