The Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize was established in 1983 to honor the Northeastern University career of Samuel French Morse as poet, teacher, and scholar by publishing the work of emerging artists. The prize is awarded annually to the manuscript of a first or second book of poems by a U.S. poet and consists of a $1000 cash award and publication of the winning manuscript by Northeastern University Press/UPNE.
Rodney Jones has selected In the Truth Room, by Dana Roeser, as winner of the 2008 Samuel French Morse Poetry Prize. Ms. Roeser teaches at Butler University and lives in West Lafayette, Indiana. Her first book, Beautiful Motion, won the Morse Prize in 2004.
Morse Prize submissions are evaluated by an English Department committee, which selects finalist manuscripts. The final judging is done by a distinguished poet, who also writes an introduction to the winning volume. Guy Rotella is the series editor. The twenty-fifth book was selected in January of 2008.
Previous judges have been Anthony Hecht, Maxine Kumin, X.J. Kennedy, Donald Hall, Mary Oliver, Peter Davison, Charles Simic, Rachel Hadas, Philip Booth, A.R. Ammons, David Ferry, Sonia Sanchez, Molly Peacock, Edward Hirsch, Carolyn Kizer, Alfred Corn, Carl Phillips, Marilyn Hacker, Rosanna Warren, Robert Cording, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Eric Pankey, Lucia Perillo, Charles Harper Webb, and Rodney Jones, all of them widely published poets and winners of prestigious national literary awards.
The Morse Prize series has received awards for design and content; for instance, the 1989 volume, Dangerous Life, by Lucia Perillo, won the Norma Farber First Book Award, and the 1997 volume, Reading the Water, by Charles Harper Webb, won a Tufts Award. Other winners include Susan Donnelly, William Carpenter, Yvonne Sapia, Sue Ellen Thompson, Carl Phillips, David Moolten, Don Boes, James Haug, Jeffrey Greene, Michelle Boisseau, Frank Gaspar, J. Allyn Rosser, Allison Funk, George Mills, Jennifer Atkinson, Ted Genoways, Catherine Sasanov, Chris Forhan, Dana Roeser, Annie Boutelle, Roy Jacobstein, and Virginia Chase Sutton.
The competition is open to manuscripts of first or second books of poems by U.S. poets. (Chapbooks and “vanity” publications are not considered previously published books.) Members of the Northeastern community are not eligible. Previous winners of the Morse Prize for first books are eligible to submit manuscripts of second books.
The prize consists of publication of the winning manuscript by Northeastern University Press/UPNE and an award of $1,000.
Manuscripts must contain approximately 50 to 70 pages of poetry, exclusive of front matter, section dividers, and other material.
Manuscripts must be typed or word processed. Clear Xeroxed copies are acceptable.
One copy of the entry should be submitted. It should be held together by a binder clip in order to permit handling without scattering or loss (paper clips are insufficient). The manuscript should be accompanied by a list of acknowledgments (if appropriate) and by a brief biography of the entrant. Those materials should not be attached to the manuscript. The poet’s name should not appear on the title or table of contents pages, or on any of the poems themselves. Include your address, telephone number, and e-mail address in the accompanying materials.
A reading fee of $20.00 must accompany each entry submitted. Please make check or money orders payable to the English Department, Northeastern University.
MANUSCRIPTS WILL NOT BE RETURNED. Be sure to retain a copy.
Enclose a stamped, self-addressed business envelope for notification of contest results. For acknowledgment of receipt of your manuscript, include a stamped, self-addressed postcard.
Manuscripts will be judged anonymously. After an initial screening by a faculty panel, the manuscripts of the finalists will be sent to a distinguished poet for judging. Final selection is anticipated in mid-January 2009.
Contest correspondence must be postmarked no later than August 1, 2008 for inquiries and September 15, 2008 for manuscript submission.
Manuscripts and requests for further information should be addressed to:
Guy Rotella, Editor
Morse Poetry Prize
Department of English
406 Holmes Hall
Boston, Massachusetts 02115-5000