CutBank Contests

CutBank sponsors a variety of contests, including the Montana Prize in FictionMontana Prize in Creative Nonfiction, and the Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry, as well as our annual CutBank Chapbook Contest. Submission dates vary so please see details below. Please send only your best work. With all three of these awards, we're looking for work that showcases an authentic voice, an original perspective, and a willingness to push against the boundaries of form. All entries must be submitted electronically.

2017 CutBank Genre Contests

Montana Prize in Fiction
Judged by Alexandra Kleeman

Montana Prize in Creative Nonfiction
Judged by Peter Orner

Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry
Judged by Bob Hicok


Submissions for our genre contests are currently closed. Submissions for the 2017 prizes will be accepted November 9 through January 15. The Montana Prize in Fiction, the Montana Prize in Nonfiction, and the Patricia Goedicke Prize in Poetry seek to highlight work that showcases authentic voice, boldness of form, and a rejection of functional fixedness. A winner from each genre, chosen by our guest judges, will be featured in CutBank 85 and receive $500. All submissions will be considered for print publication. We look forward to reading your work!

Submissions are accepted through our online submission manager only. The $20 contest entry fee includes a one-year subscription to CutBank and covers the reading of a single submission in a single genre. For fiction and nonfiction, please send only a single work of no greater than 35 pages. For poetry, submit up to five poems. Please submit only once per genre, though writers are permitted to submit in multiple genres. Include a short cover letter that mentions your address (where your subscription will be sent), phone number, and email address, as well as the title of your work. Please include the author's name on the manuscript—names will be removed from the pool of submissions that goes before our contest judges. Current subscribers must submit the same $20 fee, and their CutBank subscriptions will be extended by one year. Simultaneous submissions are accepted, but please withdraw your submission via Submittable immediately should it be accepted elsewhere. We are unable to offer refunds.

Entrants will be notified of their submission status no later than March 15. One winner in each genre, as chosen by our guest judges, will receive a $500 award and publication in the summer print issue of CutBank. Winners will be required to complete a W-9 form to receive payment. All manuscripts are considered for publication in CutBank. All rights to selected manuscripts revert to the author upon publication. The author grants their permission to have their work electronically archived as part of CutBank in EBSCO International's subscription-based research database. Current University of Montana students and faculty and former CutBank staff are not eligible for the awards.

The CutBank Chapbook Contest

Submissions Open: January 1 - March 31

Award: Publication, $1000 cash prize, and 25 contributor copies.

Eligibility: This competition is open to original English language manuscripts in the genres of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. While previously published stand-alone pieces or excerpts may be included in a manuscript, the manuscript as a whole must be an unpublished work. Translations and previously self-published collections are ineligible. Simultaneous submissions are acceptable; please note that reading fees are non-refundable, and you must withdraw the manuscript immediately via Submittable if it is accepted elsewhere. Please do not include cover artwork with your submission; black and white illustrations are acceptable so long as you’ve obtained the rights. The author must not have a close personal or professional relationship with any current or previous CutBank staff members. Reading Fee: $20; includes consideration and a copy of the summer print issue of CutBank upon its release. International applicants must send a SASE to receive a copy of the issue, or email editor.cutbank[at]gmail[dot]com to coordinate shipping as we are no longer able to ship internationally.

What We’re Looking For: Startling, compelling, and beautiful original work. We’re looking for a fresh, powerful manuscript. Maybe it will overtake us quietly; gracefully defy genres; satisfyingly subvert our expectations; punch us in the mouth page in and page out. We’re interested in both prose and poetry – and particularly work that straddles the lines between genres. Manuscripts should be cohesive and coherent; in other words, your manuscript should resonate and make sense as a book.

Guidelines for Electronic Submissions: We only accept submissions electronically. Entries must be received no later than midnight MST on March 31. Please submit 25 to 40 pages of typed poetry or prose in either .DOC/.DOCX/PDF format. For poetry and short prose, please include no more than one piece per page. Images are acceptable, but only in black and white; you must obtain reprint rights for any included images. Include page numbers, table of contents, and, if applicable, an acknowledgments page addressing where sections have been previous published. Submissions should include two cover pages as the first two pages of the document: one with the manuscript’s title, the other with the title, author’s name, address, and e-mail address. The author’s name should not appear anywhere else in the manuscript. Results will be announced via e-mail and posted at in late May.

The Long and Short of It: The CutBank Chapbook Contest honors a book of original poetry, fiction or creative nonfiction by a single author; translations are not eligible for this award. The winning author receives a $1000 honorarium plus 25 copies of the published book. Two runners-up will be chosen for publication as well. The winner and runners-up will be announced by CutBank and featured on the CutBank website, and we’ll do our best to distribute to regional independent bookstores. The contest will be judged by the CutBank editorial staff. Entries must be submitted between January 1 and March 31. Manuscripts should be 25-40 pages in length of poetry (a cohesive poetry manuscript), fiction (either a short fiction collection or novella), or creative nonfiction (one long essay or a short collection of essays). Please indicate in the acknowledgements if any sections of the manuscript have been previously published, and where; the manuscript as a whole must be an unpublished work. Manuscript revisions are not permitted during the contest. Multiple entries are fine as long as each is accompanied by a submission fee (in which case you will receive an additional copy of CutBank). The author must not have a close personal or professional relationship with any current or previous CutBank staff members.

Big Sky, Small Prose: Flash Contest

Submissions Open: August 10 - September 1

Award: $500 first place prize and publication in CutBank 86. Two runners-up will be awarded $50 and publication in CutBank 86. All other submissions will be considered with submissions for the print edition of CutBank Literary Magazine. 

What We're Looking For: CutBank Literary Magazine seeks interesting, compelling fiction and nonfiction prose in 750 words or fewer. Lyric essays, prose poems, short essays, vignettes - send us your best, most dazzling short form prose. 

The 2016 Big Sky, Small Prose Contest will be judged by Chad Simpson, winner of the 2012 John Simmons Short Fiction Award. His short story collection, "Tell Everyone I Said Hi," was published by the University of Iowa Press in October 2012. His stories and essays have appeared in "McSweeney's," "The Sun," "Esquire," "Barrelhouse," "American Short Fiction," and many other print and online publications.

Submission Guidelines:

  • Submissions will be accepted through the Submittable submission manager. Print or email submissions will not be considered. Please include a brief cover letter, biography and contact information in the form provided - please do not include identifying information in the body of your submission.
  • Submissions must be previously unpublished.
  • Simultaneous submissions are certainly welcome; however, please withdraw your CutBank submission immediately via Submittable if it is accepted elsewhere.
  • Submissions should be double spaced, no more than 750 words.
  • Submission fee of $7 includes consideration for CutBank's $500 flash prose prize and publication in CutBank 86. Two runners-up will be awarded $50 and publication in CutBank 86. All other submissions will be considered with submissions for the print edition of CutBank Literary Magazine.

The CLMP Code of Ethics: CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines -- defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage. It is truly an honor to read your work. We wish you the best of luck!