The Sappho Prize for Women Poets

closes June 15, 2023


We are honored to create this space for women poets to step forward. Thanks to the past efforts of The VIDA Count and other initiatives to highlight gender disparity in literary publications, the poetry landscape has made progress toward equity in recent years. Still, more remains to be done to honor and uplift the work of women poets. Palette is yours as much as ours, and we are committed to making this journal an inclusive, welcoming space where women's voices are amplified and offered tangible support. During the opening week of the contest, we offered a free submission window to BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) women poets, which closed after the first fifty entries. At this time, none remain. 

This contest only accepts submissions from women poets. All women are welcome to submit (cis and trans). The winning poet will be awarded $3000, publication, and a brief interview in Palette Poetry. Second and third place will receive $300 and $200, respectively, as well as publication. The top ten finalists will be selected by Palette editors, and Guest Judge Evie Shockley will then select the winner and two runners-up from among the ten finalists.

Order suddenly we, Shockley’s latest poetry collection, today!

Poet and literary scholar Evie Shockley thinks, creates, and writes with her eye on a Black feminist horizon. Her books of poetry include suddenly we, semiautomatic, and the new black. Her work has twice garnered the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, has been named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has appeared internationally. Her honors include the 2023 Shelley Memorial Award, the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and the Stephen Henderson Award, and her joys include participating in poetry communities such as Cave Canem and collaborating with like-minded artists across media. Shockley is the Zora Neale Hurston Distinguished Professor of English at Rutgers University.


Submission Guidelines: Please read carefully!

  • For this prize, we are only accepting unpublished work from women (cis and trans) poets.
  • Submissions are open internationally, to any woman poet writing in English—inclusion of other languages is welcome, as long as the poem is largely written in English.
  • Do not include your name or identifying information in the document.
  • We are only accepting unpublished work. If your poem has been published in a journal, on a blog or social media, or in any other medium, it is not eligible.
  • We accept simultaneous submissions, but please send us a message via Submittable if your work is accepted elsewhere.
  • There is no page requirement, but your submission must be no more than three poems. Please submit your poems in ONE document. Please begin each poem on a new page and include each poem's individual title. 
  • We do accept multiple submissions, but each submission of a new set of up to three poems requires its own $20 reading fee.
  • Please include a brief cover letter in the cover letter box with your publication history, if any. This is where to include your name and/or bio. If you select the editorial feedback option, please use this space to designate which poem you'd prefer to receive feedback on.
  • Review our FAQ page for frequently asked questions.
  • NOTE: If after submitting you notice an error in your submission, please message us rather than withdrawing and resubmitting your submission. We can open it to editing once so you can correct the error.
  • Contest closes on June 15, 2023.


Included Unique Opportunities and Discounts

As a thank you for your support for Palette, we'd like to offer these unique opportunities:

  • The Poetry School is offering every submitter a 20% off discount code (average $28 value) for one of their online courses. Head to their platform, find a course you're interested in, and use the code included in the confirmation message at checkout.
  • The Writing Salon is also offering every submitter a 10% off discount code on a writing class. Find a class and use the code included in the confirmation message at checkout.


Editorial Feedback Option

This option costs $59 and will provide you with two pages of detailed and actionable feedback on a poem of your choice from the submission, including suggestions for future submissions. The three-letter option costs $149 and will provide you with six pages of detailed and actionable feedback on a poem of your choice from the submission, including suggestions for future submissions, from three separate guest editors. Our guest editors are paid a significant portion of the fee and are all incredibly astute poets.