Poems that vivify.

2021 Winner / Finalists

2020 Winner

2020 Finalist

2020 Finalist

2019 Winner

About the Series

Every year, the University of Arkansas Press accepts submissions for the Miller Williams Poetry Series and from the books selected awards the $5,000 Miller Williams Poetry Prize in the following summer. For almost a quarter century the press has made this series the cornerstone of its work as a publisher of some of the country’s best new poetry. The series and prize are named for and operated to honor the cofounder and longtime director of the press, Miller Williams.

“I love poems that vivify and disturb,” says series editor Patrica Smith. “No matter what genre we write in, we’re all essentially storytellers — but it’s poets who toil most industriously, telling huge unwieldy stories within tight and gorgeously controlled confines, stories that are structurally and sonically adventurous, and it’s magic every time it happens. Simply put, when I read a poetry book, I want something to shift in my chest. I want my world to change.”

About the Prize

Series editor Patricia Smith serves as the judge for the Miller Williams Poetry Prize. With the help of screeners, she awards to three authors publication in the series. This is the most significant award the press can offer: the opportunity for the author’s work to be published with all the dedication and expertise we have to offer. We provide professional copyediting by expert poetry editors, design and production by veteran designers who specialize in the typesetting of verse, and production managed by a house with a history of printing first-rate books. We believe this offers the poet the best possible opportunity to connect with his or her audience in print. This prize goes to all three books selected for the series. Three of the books are announced as finalists for the Miller Williams Poetry Prize. One is further chosen as the winner of the prize and receives $5,000 in cash in addition to publication.

Submissions for the 2022 Miller Williams Poetry Prize are accepted until 30 Sep 2020.

Start Application

Submission Requirements

Length. Manuscripts must be between sixty and ninety pages.

Previous publication. The manuscript must be previously unpublished. Individual poems may have been published in chapbooks, journals, and anthologies.

Translations. Work in translation is not accepted.

Associations with the editor. Friends, family, current students, and former students of the editor should refrain from submitting.

Multiple submissions. No more than one manuscript per author.

Authorship. No more than one author per manuscript.

Simultaneous submissions. Manuscripts under publication consideration or prize competition elsewhere are allowed provided we are notified immediately of their acceptance.

Authors previously published in the series. Any author who has had a manuscript published in the series should not apply again until three years after the publication date of said volume.


Application Instructions

Period. Applications are accepted year-round with a rolling deadline of 30 September.

Personal information. Applicants should provide their name, an address, a telephone number, and an email address.

Manuscript content. The first page of the manuscript should start with the title of the collection, followed by a table of contents, and then the poems. Part titles and epigraphs may be included. Dedications, acknowledgments, or any personal information should not be included.

Anonymity. Submissions are judged anonymously. Your name and contact info should be submitted on this submission page but nowhere in the uploaded file. Do not include any specific identifying information anywhere in the manuscript.

File formats. We recommend authors submit their manuscripts as a PDF, which offers the most reliable representation of what is seen on the writer’s computer. Microsoft Word documents (.doc) and Rich-Text Format documents (.rtf) are also acceptable but may display text and formatting differently when opened on the judge’s computer.

Revisions. No revisions will be accepted once the application is complete and the manuscript is uploaded.

Readers fee. A readers’ fee of $28 must be paid at the time of submission. Major credit cards and PayPal are accepted. No checks, transfers, or cash can be accepted.

Selection. The winner and the finalists, whose work will be published in the year of the prize, will be notified by 15 July 2021.

Past Winners
Eternal SentencesMichael McGriff2021WinnerMiller Williams Poetry Series
Moon NewsCraig Blais2021FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Series
I/OMadeleine Wattenberg2021FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Series
I Was Waiting to See What You Would Do FirstAngie Mazakis2020FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Series
Roze and BludJayson Iwen2020WinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Spring and a Thousand Years (Unabridged)Judy Halebsky2020FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Unmanly GriefJess Williard2019FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Series
A Short History of MonstersJose Padua2019WinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Ya Te VeoP. Scott Cunningham2018FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Walking with Eve in the Loved CityRoy Bentley2018FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Narcissus AmericanaTravis Mossotti2018WinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Mr. Stevens' SecretaryFrances Schenkkan2017FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Protection SpellJennifer Givhan2017FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
The Wild Night DressLaura McCullough2017FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Self-Portrait in a Door-Length MirrorStephen Gibson2017WinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
[explicit lyrics]Andrew Gent2016WinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
CenotaphBrock Jones2016FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
When We Were BirdsJoe Wilkins2016FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
See You SoonLaura McKee2016FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
ReveilleGeorge David Clark2015WinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Ghost GearAndrew McFadyen-Ketchum2014FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Day of the Border GuardsKatherine E. Young2014FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
To the Bramble and the BriarSteve Scafidi2014CowinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Afternoon MasalaVandana Khanna2014CowinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Chord BoxElizabeth Lindsey Rogers2013FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
The Law of Falling BodiesElton Glaser2013WinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Praise NothingJoshua Robbins2013FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
The Coal LifeAdam Vines2012FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
In Broken LatinAnnette Spaulding-Convy2012FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Rousing the MachineryCatherine MacDonald2012WinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
The Empty LoomRobert Gibb2012FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Lovely AsunderDanielle Cadena Deulen2011WinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
ParadiseStephen Gibson2011FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Harm's WayEric Leigh2010FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
The Dirt RiddlesMichael Walsh2010WinnerMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Another CreaturePamela Gemin2010FinalistMiller Williams Poetry Prize
Start with the TroubleDaniel Donaghy2009CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
A Sunday in God-YearsMichelle Boisseau2009CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
Weapons GradeTerese Svoboda2009CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
RiftBarbara Helfgott Hyett2008CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
A Necklace of BeesDannye Romine Powell2008CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
The Fire LandscapeGary Fincke2008CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
Now You're the EnemyJames Allen Hall2008CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
My Father Says GraceDonald Platt2007CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
Figured DarkGreg Rappleye2007CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
Outlaw StyleR.T. Smith2007CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
World over WaterRobert Gibb2007CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
Waking StoneCarole Simmons Oles2006CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
The First Inhabitants of ArcadiaChristopher Bursk2006CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
Fire BatonElizabeth Hadaway2006CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
Walking Through the HorizonMargaret Holley2006CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
Becoming BoneAnnie Boutelle2005CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
Here and HereafterElton Glaser2005CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
Standing around the HeartGary Fincke2005CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
King VultureK. E. Duffin2005CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
CandlefishElizabeth Biller Chapman2004CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
August Evening with TrumpetHarry Humes2004CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
ChattahoocheePatrick Phillips2004CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
The Burning WorldRobert Gibb2004CowinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
Trembling AirMichelle Boisseau2003WinnerArkansas Poetry Prize
News from Where I LiveMartin Lammon1998WinnerArkansas Poetry Award
The Listening ChamberWilliam Aberg1997WinnerArkansas Poetry Award
Anne & Alpheus, 1842-1882Joe Survant1996WinnerArkansas Poetry Award
The Man on the TowerCharles Rafferty1995WinnerArkansas Poetry Award
At Every Wedding Someone Stays HomeDannye Romine Powell1994WinnerArkansas Poetry Award
Conservator's SongWilliam C. Bowie1993WinnerArkansas Poetry Award
The Angel of ObsessionJulie Suk1992WinnerArkansas Poetry Award
The Interpretation of Waking LifeEric Nelson1991WinnerArkansas Poetry Award
Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith

Series Editor

Patricia Smith has been called “a testament to the power of words to change lives.” She is the author of seven books of poetry, including Incendiary Art (2017), winner of an NAACP Image Award and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah (2012), which won the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler (2008), a chronicle of the human and environmental cost of Hurricane Katrina which was nominated for a National Book Award; and Teahouse of the Almighty, a 2005 National Poetry Series selection published by Coffee House Press. Smith collaborated with the photographer Michael Abramson on the book Gotta Go Gotta Flow: Life, Love, and Lust on Chicago’s South Side From the Seventies (2015). Her work has appeared in Poetry magazine, the Paris Review, the New York Times, TriQuarterly, Tin House, the Washington Post, and in both Best American Poetry and Best American Essays.

She is a 2014 Guggenheim fellow, a 2012 fellow at both MacDowell and Yaddo, a two-time Pushcart Prize winner, recipient of a Lannan fellowship and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. She is currently working on a biography of Harriet Tubman, a poetry volume combining text and 19th century African-American photos, and a collaborative novel with her husband Bruce DeSilva, the Edgar-Award winning author of the Liam Mulligan crime novels. 

(Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths.)

Miller Williams

Miller Williams


Once described to his pleasure as “the Hank Williams of American poetry,” Miller Williams was born in Arkansas’s Lawrence County in 1930. He attended Hendrix College, Arkansas State University, and the University of Arkansas, where he earned a master’s degree in biology. In the meantime, he published his first book of poems, Et Cetera (1952). In 1962, with the help of Flannery O’Connor, he got a job in the English Department at Louisiana State University and founded The New Orleans Review at Loyola University eight years later.

In 1970 he returned to the University of Arkansas to take a position in the Department of English where he was a key figure in the development of the Programs in Creative Writing and Translation, which grew to become one of the most respected MFA programs in the county. Ten years later he cofounded the University of Arkansas Press where he would go on to publish the works of writers such as Frank Stanford, John Williams, Ellen Gilchrist, Robert Mezey, R. S. Thomas, Leon Stokesbury, Billy Collins, Jimmy Carter, and John Ciardi.

Over the course of a teaching and publishing career that lasted four decades, Williams published over a dozen of his own books of poetry and literary theory. Already an extensively accomplished writer, he came to large national acclaim when in 1997 he read his poem “Of History and Hope” at Bill Clinton’s second inauguration.