May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize

Submissions for the 2017 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize are now open!

The judge for our seventh annual contest will be poet Jennifer Militello, author of  A Camouflage of Specimens and Garments (Tupelo Press, 2016), and Body Thesaurus (Tupelo Press, 2013), Flinch of Song, and the chapbook Anchor Chain, Open Sail. Her poems have been widely published in such journals as American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares, among others. Militello teaches in the MFA program at New England College and lives in Goffstown, New Hampshire.


Louder Than Hearts by Zeina Hashem Beck is the 2016 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize Winner

We are pleased to announce Zeina Hashem Beck as the winner of the 2016 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize. Her  collection Louder Than Hearts will be published in the spring of 2017. This year’s judge was Betsy Sholl, former poet laureate of Maine and author of eight poetry collections, most recently Otherwise Unseeable (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014), winner of the Four Lakes Prize and the 2014 Maine Book Award for Poetry.

Zeina Hashem Beck is a Lebanese poet. Her first collection, To Live in Autumn, won the 2013 Backwaters Prize. She’s also the author of two chapbooks: 3arabi Song (2016), winner of the 2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize, and There Was and How Much There Was (2016), a smith|doorstop Laureate’s Choice, selected by Carol Ann Duffy. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and the Forward Prize, and has appeared in Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, and The Rialto, among others. She lives in Dubai, where she has founded and runs PUNCH, a poetry and open mic collective. Zeina’s readings often have a strong performative quality, and she has participated in literary festivals in the Middle East, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Judge Besty Sholl had this to say about Hashem Beck’s collection:

Zeina Hashem Beck’s Louder than Hearts, has it all—compelling language and a sense of moral gravitas, personal urgency and the ability to address a larger world with passion and artfulness. These poems are sensual and serious. They have grit and spirit, grief and music. They give us a contemporary woman making her complex negotiations with history and culture in a voice that is strong and discerning, God-soaked and edgy, able to carry both loss and beauty, to make music out of personal longing and cultural tragedy. By threading Arabic words throughout the book Beck creates a meditation on the possibilities and limitations of translation, cultural and linguistic. And yet, how clearly these poems speak to us all. Louder than Hearts is certainly timely in the way it provides a lens through which to see life in the Middle East, and hear the musical mix of English and Arabic. But the poems are also timeless explorations of love and loss, of an individual’s attempt to understand her own intimate experience within in the larger context of world events and the spiritual realities that permeate them.


As usual our judge was thrilled that she had so many wonderful entries to choose from.

Below are her selections for finalists and honorable mentions:


There Was During a Sudden by Beth Marzoni

La Crosse, WI

Kill Class by Nomi Stone
Bethesda, MD


The Long Way Home by Sharron Singleton

Scottsville, VA

Lake Effects by S Cassidy
Greenville, NH

Flicker by Mary Moore
Huntington, WV

Trap Street by William Cordeiro
Flagstaff, AZ

Anonymous by Monique-Adelle Callahan
Sharon, MA

Reliquary by Kathleen O’Toole
Takoma Park, MD

No Wings, No Fins by Kathryn Smith
Spokane, WA

God, Maybe by Trish Reeves
Prairie Village, KS

Phosphenes by Valerie Perreault
Islamorada, FL

The Leopard Lady Speaks by Valerie Nieman
Greensboro, NC

2016 marks the sixth annual May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize. Past winners include Devil’s Paintbrush by Desirée Alvarez (selected by Mekeel McBride), Life of the Garment by Deborah Gorlin (selected by Gary Margolis), Twine by David Koehn (selected by Jeff Friedman) Come Down to Earth by Nils Michals (selected by Alice B. Fogel), and The Wreck of Birds by Rebecca Givens Rolland (selected by Walter Butts).  Be sure to check out their winning collections.


306-83D-Mayatdesk1The May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize is named for May Sarton, the renowned novelist, memoirist, poet, and feminist (1912-1995) who lived for many years in Nelson, New Hampshire, not far from Peterborough, home of William L. Bauhan Publishing. In 1967, she approached Bauhan and asked him to publish her book of poetry, As Does New Hampshire. She wrote the collection to celebrate the bicentennial of Nelson, and dedicated it to the residents of the town.
May Sarton was a prolific writer of poetry, novels, and perhaps what she is best known for—nonfiction on growing older (Recovering: A Journal, Journal of Solitude, among others.) She considered herself a poet, first, though, and in honor of that and to celebrate the centenary of her birth in 2012, Sarah Bauhan, who inherited her father’s small publishing company, launched the prize.