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Deep Wild 2023 Graduate Student Poetry Contest Guidelines

Please read these guidelines carefully and follow them closely. Thanks!

The editors of Deep Wild: Writing from the Backcountry invite students currently enrolled in graduate studies to submit work for our 2023 Graduate Student Poetry Contest. Submissions will be accepted from November 1 through February 1.

We seek work that conjures the experiences, observations, and insights of backcountry journeys. By “backcountry,” we mean away from roads, on journeys undertaken by foot, skis, snowshoes, kayak, canoe, horse, or any other non-motorized means of conveyance. We are open to a wide range of carefully crafted work, both personal and political. By “personal,” we mean work that not only relates the experience of backcountry journeys, but also in some way reflects upon the journeys. By “political,” we mean work that, while maintaining a backcountry perspective, addresses and confronts social, economic, environmental, or political issues.

Send us up to three poems that are backcountry infused and inspired, and that together add up to no more than 100 lines.  Judges will select three poems or groups of poems for publication in the June 2023 print edition of Deep Wild Journal, and the authors will receive cash awards and five copies of the journal. The 1st Place prize is $300, 2nd Place $200, and 3rd Place $100. Judges will also select a number of other poems for Honorable Mention, and the poets will receive a copy of the journal and possible publication online or in the journal.

Submissions must be made using your private email account from the college or university, or if you do not have such an account, inform us in the cover letter box on Submittable. The cover letter should also give your name, school affiliation, program of study, expected graduation date, and contact info (phone, email, permanent address). Winning poets will be required to verify their student status.

The poems must be submitted anonymously. This means your name should not appear either in the file or in the file name.

There is no fee to enter the contest.

  • Again, only one submission per student, of up to three poems. Multiple submissions will be disqualified.
  • Please put all poems into a single file, and remember to remove all mention of your name.
  • Once you submit your entry, you cannot recall or revise it or substitute another in its place.
  • Be sure not to exceed the LIMIT OF 100 TOTAL LINES. Please note that stanza-breaks count as one line.
  • It’s OK if your poems add up to less than a hundred lines. Shorter, fully realized poems stand just as good a chance of winning as longer ones.
  • Formatting: Poems should be typed, single-spaced, in 11- or 12-point font.
  • Finishing: Tightly written poems that are error-free and that have already benefited from  feedback and revision will stand the best chance. However, be assured that a few typos or minor errors will not affect our decision. We will work with authors of winning entries to revise their work as needed for clarity and correctness.

We strongly encourage students to familiarize themselves with the kind of writing published in Deep Wild Journal by purchasing an issue at the Educational Rate ($10 for Deep Wild 2022; $5 for DW 2021, postage-paid). See deepwildjournal.com/studentsandteachers/ Excerpts from current and past issues of Deep Wild can also be read on our blog  (deepwildjournal.com/blog).

Thanks, and good luck to all!


About the judges:

Author Becca Lawton worked many years as a fluvial geologist and river guide. Her books include Swimming Grand Canyon and Other Poems (Finishing Line, 2021) and Nautilus Award-winning The Oasis This Time: Living and Dying with Water in the West (Torrey House, 2019). She is writing memoir about life as an early Grand Canyon boatwoman.

Margaret Pettis is a Utah poet and writer who loves kayaking, riding horses and forest wandering. Her books include Chokecherry Rain, In the Temple of the Stars, the nonfiction/illustrated Back Roads of Utah, and a five-novel series of outdoor suspense (The Turquoise Bear). She is a wilderness/wildlife activist and co-founder of the Utah Wilderness Association.

We use Submittable to accept and review our submissions.