The following guidelines are current and complete for the contest opening January 1, 2014. The judges for 2013 were Jeffrey McDaniel, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Susan Wheeler.
- The James Laughlin Award is given to honor a second book of original poetry, in English, by a living citizen of the United States. To be eligible, a poet must have published one book of poetry in a standard edition (40 pages or more in length). Additional books on a smaller scale, such as chapbooks and limited editions, will not disqualify a poet.
- To be eligible, a book must have already come under contract with a United States publisher. Submissions are welcome from small presses, university presses, and trade publishers that have previously published at least four volumes of poetry.
- The winning publisher agrees that they will have published the selected manuscript by June 1, 2014.
- Although an eligible book may already have been published, it must be submitted in manuscript form (or page proofs) so that the jury can compare entries without considering the books' appearance. Bound books or galleys will not be accepted.
- Publishers must send four copies of each manuscript. The author's name should not be included in running heads or appear on any page, so that the manuscript can be read "blind." Suggested length is between forty and seventy-five pages.
- Entries should be postmarked no later than May 15, 2014. Each entry must be accompanied by a completed entry form (or facsimile) signifying the publisher's acceptance of these guidelines.
- The decision of the jury is expected in September 2014.
- The Academy of American Poets will award the winning poet $5,000.
- The Academy of American Poets agrees to purchase for distribution to its members copies of the winning book. The Academy may purchase additional copies of the book for its own use, but not for resale. No royalties will be paid to the author on the copies purchased by the Academy.
- The publisher agrees to sell the books at a special discount based on a percentage markup of the PPB (printing, paper, and binding) costs.
- The winning book will be announced and published as the "Winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets," and will be so identified on the front of the dust jacket of the hardbound edition and on the front cover of the paperbound edition. The publisher will also print a description of the prize on the half-title page of each edition. The jacket and half-title copy must be submitted to the Academy for approval prior to publication.
- If the winning book is published prior to the jury's decision, the publisher agrees to sticker all the books in its possession with a label that reads "Winner of the James Laughlin Award of the Academy of American Poets." Any subsequent reprintings of the book must comply with the stipulations set forth in the previous paragraph.
- The decisions of the Academy of American Poets as to eligibility are final. Manuscripts will not be returned.
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