Skip to main content

Fischer Prize Submission Guidelines

Fischer Prize

For those who have submitted in the past please note that some details have changed. Please read carefully. For questions, please contact us at

  • A national poetry contest open to English language writers of all ages living in the U.S. (whether a citizen or not) and to U.S. citizens living overseas.
  • Prizes include $1000 first place award and five $250 finalist awards.
  • All styles and subject matter are welcome although one could acquaint oneself with past winners to get some idea of what entries have been selected previously

Our final judge for 2022 will be former Fischer Prize winner Anna Scotti of California.

Online Entry Form

Eligible Poets
Open to English language writers of all ages living in the United States (non-citizens welcome) or U.S. citizens living overseas


  1. Bio: 125 words or less.
  2. Headshot: jpg or jpeg only, min. 250 KB max 2 MB
  3. Poems: separate .doc or .docx files for each poem submitted (editable .pdf files okay)
  4. Cover Letter or on-line submission form giving contacts: Name, Poem(s) submitted, email, physical address, town, zip, and phone number

Poem File Format
Each poem file should be named using

  1. up to the first six letters of the poets last name with the first letter capitalized
  2. up to the first six letters of the poem’s title with the first letter capitalized
  3. the capitalized initial F for Fischer entry
  4. the last two number of the contest year submitted

– For example, if Art Goodtimes were submitting his poem Kinship for this year’s contest the file name sent to us would look like this: GoodtiKinshiF22
– Gary Snyder’s “Prayer to the Great Family” would look like: SnyderPrayerF22
– Marge Piercy’s “To Be Of Use” would look like: PiercyToBeOfF22
– Al Foy’s “Dog” would look like: FoyDogF22

Text of File
Each poem must be within a separate file with no names or identifying info in the file: only poem text and title. No multiple poem files will be allowed. Only the file name will identify the author and the poem.


  • Entry fees are best paid online. Base fee is $10 per poem. The third poem of three gets a $5 discount. Thus 2 poems are $20, 3 poems are $25, 4 poems $35, 5 poems $45, six poems $50, 7 poems $60, et cetera in that sequence.
  • Snail mail submissions (poems and check) will incur a $10 handling charge in addition to fees and can be sent to Telluride Institute, Talking Gourds Program, P.O. Box 160, Norwood CO 81423. Checks can be made out to the “Telluride Institute” with a note “Fischer Contest fee” in the bottom left corner. Snail mail submissions will not be returned.


  • Feedback from one of our preliminary judges will offer some comments on the poem and how it stacked up in the contest. A surcharge of $5 per poem will be assessed for this feature.
  • Submissions for feedback must be digital and current contact information must be submitted.

Poems will be divided into 4 categories through three rounds of judging, two preliminary and one final. All Honorable Mention poems that make the second cut will be sent anonymously to the final judge

  1. Contest winners and finalists
  2. Honorable Mention (those who make the second cut)
  3. Runners-up (those who make the first cut)
  4. Heartsong entries (we honor all who share their heartsongs with us)

Submissions must be received online or in P.O. Box 160 by the 31 st of August each year.

Winners and finalists will be notified privately. A public announcement will be made on the Talking Gourds website by early October. Winners and finalist will receive their checks and certificates in the mail. Each of them will be invited to be a featured reader at our Bardic Trails Zoom Poetry Series hosted through the Wilkinson Library through the following year (in this case 2023). Featured readers receive a $100 honorarium for their virtual performance.


Please go to Fischer Entry Form & Fees page for online form and payment options.
(CLICK HERE to go to the main Fischer & Cantor Prizes page.)

Fischer Entry Form & Fees