Poetry & Prose Chapbook Competition Guidelines


On 13/08/22 we will open for poetry and/or prose chapbook competition entries.

Your reading team will comprise of Co-Founding Editor of The Broken Spine, Alan Parry; Co-Flash-Fiction Editor Elizabeth Kemball; Regular Contributor and author of Holy Things, Jay Rafferty; and Book Reviewer and Chapbook Editor Ellen Dixon.

The team is keenly aware of representative imbalances and discrepancies in publishing, this is something we wish to address with our competition rules. With this in mind, please read the following carefully

  • This competition will be open to all writers
  • We will close at 23.59 (BST) on 10/09/22 or when we reach capacity
  • We will read only thirty competition entries
  • One third of our entry spots will be open to BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ artists and those who identify as female with an entry fee waived (in order to qualify for this waiving of the entry fee, we will open an application form for a week prior to opening to the competition fully for ten writers to introduce yourself – if you miss this deadline you will have to pay our entry fee)
  • Entry for the competition for those who are not BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ artists, those who identify as female, or those who missed the deadline will cost £9 in the form of a Chapbook Digital Bundle order which we will make available on the 12/08/22. You must ensure proof of purchase for your entry to be accepted. This fee will cover the cost of production of the chapbook. For those who wish to submit, and do not meet the criteria for a waived entry and already own our entire chapbook back catalogue in the digital format may contact us and we can arrange an alternative payment option
  • All entries must be submitted as .doc(x) files
  • All entries must be single author collections
  • All entries must not be under consideration elsewhere
  • All entries must be a maximum of 24 pages of text in Garamond (font size 12)
  • All poetry must be single spaced
  • All prose must be double spaced
  • We also ask that you include an acknowledgements page of all previously published works in addition to the 24 pages of creative writing
  • All entries will be read blind – so authors must refrain from including their own name on their document
  • Authors will be asked to write a short paragraph about what attracted them to The Broken Spine/their writing & publishing experience/what the chapbook is about
  • We will shortlist three collections, who as part of their placement will receive individualised feedback on their collection of work (each of those shortlisted will also receive a digital bundle of our entire back catalogue)
  • Of those three shortlisted, one winner will be selected – the winner will receive a digital bundle of our entire back catalogue, and be offered a publication contract which will reward the winner with ten hard copies of their chapbook, plus the ability to purchase further copies at a reduced rate
  • Details of how to apply for waived entry and how to submit will follow soon

The Broken Spine enjoys:

  • Narrative poetry rather than form poetry
  • Poems that shine – a sense of voice/flair/style
  • Poems that shake us to the bone – emotions/feelings/honesty/bravery are great if they are cultivated
  • Interesting and surprising language
  • Experimental work, providing it is not deliberately pretentious – poems with distinct formats are okay
  • Writing that SHOWS rather than TELLS

The Broken Spine does NOT like:

  • Anything AT ALL that may be deemed racist, ageist, sexist, homophobic, or contain any sort of hateful, vengeful or malicious content
  • If you submit this sort of material you are not, and will never be welcome at The Broken Spine
  • Rhyme for the sake of rhyme
  • Preachy poems that rant about how shit your life, or the world is – be brave and honest but avoid dirge
  • Plagiarism
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