Walt Whitman Award Guidelines

  • Any poet who meets one of the below criteria on the date of the application deadline, in any given year, is eligible to apply:
    • U.S. Citizen
    • resident of the United States for a ten-year period prior to the submission deadline, or
    • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival (DACA) status, Temporary Protected Status (TPS), Legal Permanent Status (LPS), or any subsequent categories designated by the U.S. authorities as conferring similar enhanced status upon non-citizens living in the United States.

Please note: By law the Academy of American Poets must report cash prizes awarded to individuals to the Internal Revenue Service. If individuals have a Social Security Number (SSN) or an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), the individual will receive a 1099. If the individual does not have an SSN or ITIN, the individual will receive a 1042 and could be subject to a withholding of a percentage of the cash prize.

  • The Walt Whitman Award is given to honor a poet’s first book. Applicants must be living poets who have neither published, nor committed to publish a book-length collection of poems (48 pages or more) with a registered ISBN, either in the United States or abroad.
  • Poems may have been previously published in periodicals or chapbooks, but the collection must not have been previously published (including self-publications and e-books).
  • Manuscripts must be of original poetry, in English, by one poet. There are no restrictions on the style of poetry or subject matter. Translations are not eligible.
  • Manuscripts must be between 48 and 100 pages, typed single-spaced (unless the poems are meant to be presented using nonstandard spacing). Multiple poems may not appear on a single page.
  • Only one manuscript may be submitted per applicant.
  • Include one title page with the manuscript title only. The manuscript itself should not contain any information that would reveal the identity of its author.
  • Poets are not eligible to apply if they have studied with the judge in full-time accredited courses within the last three years.
  • Only online submissions are accepted for the Walt Whitman Award through our submission manager, Submittable.
  • Manuscripts must be .doc, .docx, or .pdf files.
  • An acknowledgements page should not be included in the manuscript file. Applicants who have published poems in magazines may include acknowledgment notes in the “Acknowledgements” field of the submission manager.
  • The entry fee is $35.
  • The Academy of American Poets assumes no responsibility for manuscripts not received due to user error. Applicants may verify the receipt of their manuscript by logging into Submittable.
  • Applicants may submit manuscripts elsewhere simultaneously but must notify the Academy of American Poets immediately if a manuscript is accepted for publication by another publisher.
  • All applicants will be notified of the award results by email by April 30, 2016.
  • Graywolf Press will publish the winning manuscript in a paperback edition within one year of the judge’s decision.
  • The Academy of American Poets will purchase from the publisher copies of the winning book for distribution to its members. No royalties will be paid to the author on the copies distributed by the Academy of American Poets. The standard contract of the publisher will govern production, distribution, and royalties for all other copies.
  • The Academy of American Poets cannot consider manuscript revisions during the course of the contest. The winning poet will have an opportunity to revise before publication.
  • All correspondence concerning the contest should be addressed to the Academy of American Poets.
  • The decisions of the Academy of American Poets as to eligibility are final. The Academy of American Poets reserves the right to withhold the Walt Whitman Award in any given year.

For more information, please contact: 
Patricia Guzman
Programs Coordinator
(212) 274-0343, ext. 13