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 2020-21 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 2021–2

For the 2021–2 prize we will begin accepting online submissions of book-length (i.e., more than 48 pages) poetry manuscripts on July 1, 2021. The final due date for submission will be October 15, 2021. The prize winner will be announced in early March, 2022.

Our judge for 2021–2 is DANA LEVIN. Levin is the author of four poetry collections: Banana Palace (Copper Canyon, 2016), Sky Burial (2011), Wedding Day (2005), and In the Surgical Theatre (1999). She has received awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, PEN, the Witter Bynner Foundation, the Library of Congress, the Whiting Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation.

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.) Separate books published abroad also count toward eligibility, but not books reprinted abroad. (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 then that book was reprinted in the UK, you would still be eligible.)

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 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 Randall Mann has chosen Brian Tierney’s book Rise and Float as the winner of the 2020–21 Jake Adam York Prize. Rise and Float will be published by Milkweed Editions in February, 2022, and Tierney will receive $2,000.

Brian Tierney’s poetry and prose have appeared in Agni, Boston Review, Kenyon Review, New England Review, Paris Review, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. A graduate of the Bennington Writing Seminars, he is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford and winner of the Poetry Society of America’s 2018 George Bogin Memorial Award. He grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and currently lives in Oakland, California, where he teaches poetry at the Writing Salon.

In choosing Tierney’s book, Mann says: “In these poems of turnpikes, water, and migraine light, filled with grief and life, the poet tells us it’s all right that ‘we don’t love / living.’ Here, precision is a form of metaphor, language a facet of experience; the poet writes with a kind of allusive purity and vulnerability—‘each thought a texture’—that I find moving. Rise and Float is that rare thing, a book of one striking poem after another. If I could write something as tender and nearly perfect as ‘You’re the One I Wanna Watch the Last Ships Go Down With’—a lightning strike, Randall Jarrell would call it—then I might give up writing.”

There were 870 manuscripts submitted to the prize this year, which our screeners narrowed to 18 finalists and 9 semifinalists. It’s our opinion that every one of these manuscripts is outstanding and eminently publishable.

With that in mind, the finalists were:

Erin Adair-Hodges, Hysterical
Ina Cariño, Feast
Su Cho, The Symmetry of Fish
Teresa Dzieglewicz, Something Small of How to See a River
John Goodhue, Johnny
JP Grasser, Pathetic Fallacy
Jane Huffman, Dilemma
Esther Lin, Cold Thief Place
Celeste Lipkes, Radium Girl
Teo Mungaray, Three Bloods
Michael Rutherglen, Summer in Symmetry
Leslie Sainz, Have You Been Long Enough at Table
Kirk Schlueter, First the Blade
Samyak Shertok, No Rhododendron
Jasmine Elizabeth Smith, South Flight
Brian Chander Wiora, Night Maker
Corey Zeller, Vows

And the semifinalists were:

Benjamin Aleshire, Fake Noose
Michael Chang, 寂寞 • 先知 (Lonely Prophet)
Asa Drake, One Way to Listen
L. S. McKee, Tender Creatures
Cintia Santana, The Disordered Alphabet
Elizabeth Scanlon, Myths & Scientists
Katie Schmid, So Long a Thrall
Leigh Sugar, Freeland
H. R. Webster, What Follows

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:

Ruth Awad, author of Set to Music a Wildfire
Brian Barker, author of Vanishing Acts
Nicky Beer, author of The Octopus Game
Justin Boening, author of Not on the Last Day, But on the Very Last
Dorothy Chan, author of Revenge of the Asian Woman
Rebecca Morgan Frank, author of Oh You Robot Saints!
Benjamin Garcia, author of Thrown in the Throat
John McCarthy, author of Scared Violent Like Horses
Juan Morales, author of The Handyman’s Guide to End Times

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.