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The California State Poetry Society offers monthly and annual poetry contests to encourage poetic creativity. Members of the CSPS are also eligible to participate in all poetry contests of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.

The CSPS Monthly Contests

This contest is open to all poets, whether or not they are members of the CSPS. Reading fees are $1.50 per poem with a $3.00 minimum for members and $3.00 per poem with a $6.00 minimum for non-members. Entries must be submitted through this website, our blogsite, or postmarked during the month of the contest in which they are entered. They must consist of a first page with all contact information (name, address, telephone number, and email address) and the titles of the poems being submitted. The pages of the poems you submit must have no identifying information on them at all.

Submit (upload) entries and pay reading fees on the Contests page of this website (click on the Contests tab directly) or mail them with a check to:

CSPS Monthly Contest – (Specify Month)
Post Office Box 4288
Sunland, California 91041

Submissions can also by be made by emailing the poems to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. andusing PayPal to pay the reading fees.

All contests are judged by Alice Pero, the CSPS Monthly Contest Chair and Judge. The 1st place winner each month receives half of the prize pool for pools less than $100. For pools of $100 or more, the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners receive $50, $10 and $5, respectively. There are no exceptions to the prize disbursement rules. The monthly contest winners are announced on this website as they are awarded and all of the winners for the year are listed in the first CSPS Newsbriefs of the following year. The 1st-prize winners are also published in the CSPS Poetry Letter.

The current monthly contest topics are the following:

Month

Topic(s)

January

Nature, Seasons, Landscape

February

Love

March

Open, Free Subject

April

Mythology, Dreams, Other Universes

May

Personification, Characters, Portraits

June

The Supernatural

July

Childhood, Memoirs

August

Places, Poems of Location

September     

Colors, Music, Dance

October

Humor, Satire

November

Family, Friendship, Relationships

December

Best of Your Best (winning or published poems only; indicate complete name of contest or publication and award/issue date and year)

 All poems must be the original work of the poet, in English and, except for the December contest, previously unpublished.There is no limit to the number of poems one can submit, but each poem must be less than 80 lines (two pages). The monthly contest topics are published for each year in December of the previous year. Please do not send SASEs, as we do not return poems and only winners are notified.

The CSPS Annual Contest

This contest is open to all poets, whether or not they are members of the CSPS. Entries must be submitted through the Contests page of this website (click on the Contests tab directly) or postmarked from March 1st through July 31th; they must be in English and be the original, unpublished work of the poet. Reading fees for all entries are $3.00 per poem for members and $6.00 per poem for nonmembers. There is an 80-line (two-page) limit for each poem, as longer poems are generally too difficult to include in the California Quarterly (CQ). Poets winning 1st, 2nd and 3rd receive $100, $50 and $25, respectively. As many as ten Honorable Mentions may also be awarded. Winners are announced on this website and placing poets are published in the fourth issue of the CQ in the contest year. The Honorable Mention poems and other submissions are forwarded to the CQ editors for possible inclusion in the subsequent issue. The contest results will be posted on this website. If submitting by mail, send (1) a cover letter with all poet information and a list of the submitted poems and (2) one copy of each poem with no poet identification on it.

If you mail a package, include either an email address or a SASE in it for contest results and send to:

CSPS Annual Contest Chair
3371 Thomas Drive
Palo Alto, California 94303