Copyright After Hours Press 2021, Elmwood Park, IL

After Hours launched the inaugural Mary Blinn Annual Poetry Prize in 2019.Commemorating the outstanding work of Mary Blinn as a poet, visual artist and musician, the prize is awarded annually for outstanding works of poetry by writers who, like Mary Blinn, are deeply dedicated and passionate about their art and the crafting of fine poetry.

One $200 Winner and three $50 Finalists will be selected in an anonymous review by After Hours editors with the final winning decisions made at the discretion of our 2021 judge Mark Turcotte.  Winning entries will be published annually in the Summer Issue of After Hours.  Deadline for entries is February 28, 2021.

Unlike our standard submission guidelines which require contributors to have a connection to metro Chicago, the Mary Blinn Poetry Prize is open to all poets writing in English.  The competition is open to all themes, styles and forms of poetry.  We simply ask poets to submit their best unpublished work, because we want our prize winning poems to be high quality, eclectic and emotionally charged.

After Hours has published two-issues per year consistently since June of 2000.  We are wholly independent without any outside source of funding.  We value our independence and want to continue without influence or oversight.  As is common with many literary journals who sponsor prizes and competitions, we will require an entry fee for this competition.  Your $15 entry fee will primarily fund our prizes but will also help to support the cost of publishing, postage and the overall long-term future of After Hours

We do hope you will enter the Mary Blinn Poetry Prize competition and/or recommend us to your favorite poets. There's nothing more exciting, as an editor, than clicking on the next poem, which might be the winner.

2021 Judge Mark Turcotte

See previous years winners and judges below

Scroll Down for 2021 Contest Entry Guidelines

Mary Blinn Poetry Prize 2021 Entry Guidelines

1) $15 entry feePayment made through PayPal must be confirmed before submissions will be considered.

2) One $200 Winner and three $50 Finalists will be selected in an anonymous review by After Hours editors with the final winning decisions made by our 2021 Judge.

3) Submissions deadline February 28, 2021.  Winners will be announced on April 15, 2021, and published in After Hours 2021 Summer Issue (released at the Chicago Printers Row Lit Fest, if it indeed happens in 2021).

4) All entries must be submitted via email to: poetryprize@afterhourspress.comYou last name followed by “Mary Blinn Prize” should be the subject of the email.  Cover letter and poems should be combined in one file and emailed as a single attachment(.doc /.docx file types preferred). Your cover letter with contact information,75 word bio, and the names of the poems submitted is required.

5) Open to writers, worldwide; poems must be written in English (translations accepted if translated by the author).  After Hours’ Summer Issue must be a potential first publication for all works submitted. No previously published works, or works accepted for publication elsewhere. Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but we must be notified immediately if any poems are accepted elsewhere.

6) No identifying personal or contact information should appear on any pages with poems.

7) A cover letter with contact information,75 word bio, and the names of the poems submitted is required.

8) Entry fees are non-refundable. Send up to four poems per entry. There is no line-limit. Poems may be any length, any style, or any subject. Multiple entries by a single poet are accepted, however each group of four poems must be treated as a separate entry, each with its own cover sheet and an additional $15 fee.

About Mary Blinn

Mary wrote poetry throughout her life, but took up the craft in earnest in the 1990s, winning a prize with one of her earliest efforts, “His Treasure” in 1993.  More than a poet, however, Mary was also a singer/songwriter and visual artist.  Her CD of children’s songs, “A Handful of Sunshine,” which she wrote and performed, earned a Grammy nomination in 2002. She had numerous art exhibits and installations at galleries around Chicago, including a one-woman show at the Old Town Triangle gallery in 2013, and an open-air multimedia installation called “I See Faces” in Oak Park, IL. Mary was highly regarded within the Chicago poetry scene. She was a regular contributor to After Hours and frequently read her works at various area Open Mics and invitational readings, including the Printer’s Row Literary Fest.  She also received an Illinois State Poetry Award and a Pushcart Prize nomination.

When she was suddenly faced with a devastating illness, her reaction was to start a project to make a multimedia book about her hospitalization -- something to help other people who might share the same situation.  Taking a bad experience and turning it into something creative to help other people is quintessential Mary.  Unfortunately she wasn’t able to complete that project; but in recognition of her talent and many other contributions to the poetry community, After Hours has published her selected poems called “when word and image run away.” 

2020 Winners, Judge Marty McConnell

WINNER -- David Mathews, “The Naming of Monsters”

FINALIST -- Kathleen Kirk, “Elaborate Failure”

FINALIST -- Jane Craven, “Simulacrum”

FINALIST -- Patricia McMillen, “Jesus Heads Home”

2019 Winners, Judge Stuart Dybek

WINNER -- Susanna Lang, “Shelter”

FINALIST -- Kevin Burris, “Factory Birds”

FINALIST -- Ellaraine Lockie, “Flashbacks in a Bottle”