Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Our third Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize is released! Splitting the Velvet Dark



Elaine Mott’s life work was almost never published. Between growing up in Brooklyn in the 40s, and battling depression and anxiety as a wife and mother, Mott penned exquisite verses that few people ever read until her son submitted her collected work to a contest.

Sharon Olds, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry, said of Mott’s work, “Her voice is genuine and immediate. We hear it with the sense she is right next to us, singing directly to us.”

This genuine voice earned her the medal for the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize by publisher Casey Shay Press. Mott’s book, Splitting the Velvet Dark, will be released in conjunction with April’s National Poetry Month.

Mott occasionally submitted poems to magazines and anthologies and managed to place a few of them.

Dorothea Lasky, Poet and Professor of Columbia School of the Arts, judged this year’s finalists and lauded the collection as “a gift to us from Elaine Mott, who left behind a book to guide us through our days.”

Elaine Mott’s son Aaron Mott collected the poems and submitted them four years after her death. “Reading through her work to put together the twenty poems in this collection gave me a way to connect with her,” Aaron Mott said. “The poems were so evocative and revealed so much of her inner dialogue that it felt like having a deep conversation with her about her life.”

Mott was born in Brooklyn in 1946. She struggled with depression as she raised her son and daughter, a recurring theme in her poetry. She retired to the mountains of upstate New York with her husband of forty years until her death in 2009.

Perhaps most poignant of the previously unpublished works as we listen to a poet almost lost to time is in a verse from “Dragonflies and Green Rushes.”

It’s simpler to live this way, with my hands plunged in the warm dirt
spreading out the roots of strawberry plants
than to walk in circles around an empty room
crying out to someone who can’t hear me

Find it on: Amazon ~ BN

Monday, March 31, 2014

The Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize is OPEN for the 2015 contest

We are pleased to announce that the 2015 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize is open for submissions April 1 through June 30, 2014. There is NO fee to enter this contest and international entries are welcome.

Please realize that this is a chapbook competition for 20-40 pages of poetry. Entries with fewer than 20 pages will simply be discarded.


Mary Ballard Wright wrote poetry, but almost no one knew it. She raised three children through two marriages, kept a home, and scribbled verses in those moments when she dared to think of something other than daily life.

In 1979, a tornado swept through her town of Wichita Falls, taking her home and everything she owned. Among the things she lost were her life's work, handwritten poems kept in a closet.

Mary died in 2010, and here at Casey Shay Press, we have decided, in her memory, to publish one poet each year. It is our hope that by encouraging poets to send their work out into the world, we can help keep others from sudden loss, be it a natural disaster, a technical failure that destroys a hard drive, or a personal loss in the theft of the laptop or computer.

The winner of the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize will receive $500 and 25 printed copies of the chapbook. The chapbook will be sold in both physical and electronic versions via a publishing contract with Casey Shay Press.

There is NO fee to enter this contest, but each entrant may submit only one manuscript.

Rule for Entries:

Deadline: June 30, 2014

  • The Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize is open to all poets, published or unpublished.
  • The prize is open to international entries, although the poetry should be in English.
  • Manuscripts may be either a collection of poems or one long poem and should be a minimum of 20 pages and a maximum of 40 pages (not including the title page).
  • Poems should adhere to a theme, however loosely.
  • We consider themes for adults as well as collections for children.
  • Individual poems may be previously published, but poems should not have been published as a group in any form, including self-published collections.
  • No more than 10% of the poetry should have been posted to the poet's own blog or web site previously, and print and digital rights to any published poems should have reverted to the author to be eligible.
  • All poems should be single spaced and typed in size 12 Times New Roman or similar font.
  • Each manuscript should include a title page. This page should include the title, a one-sentence explanation of the chapbook's theme, and contact information on the poet. Please use your real name for your submission. If you prefer to use a pseudonym on your chapbook, you may list that as well and we will use it on public contest results.
  • If any poems have been previously published, please indicate their titles and where they were published.
  • If the poet already participates in readings, poetry groups, or writers' organizations, we would love to hear about that, but it is optional.
  • The reading period for the 2015 competition begins on April 1, 2014. Entries must be submitted by June 30, 2014. Submissions will only be considered if received between those dates.
  • The quarter-finalists will be announced July 31, 2014. Semi finalists Aug. 30. Finalists Sept. 15. The winner will be chosen by a celebrity poet judge, and we can't always be sure when the judging will be completed, but hopefully by Nov. 1.
  • We are all-electronic. Fill out this form to submit your entry:

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    Go to the Entry Form

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Take a look at our previous winners:

Uncommon Clay by Darlene Franklin-Campbell, judged by Jay Parini, author of The Last Station, Robert Frost: A Life, and numerous poetry collections.

You can read free samples of her work at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Seven Times to Leave by Jeannette Angell, judged by Fred Marchant, Director of the Creative Writing Program at Suffolk University and author of The Looking House.

Read her work at Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Splitting the Velvet Dark by Elaine Mott, judged by Dorothea Lasky, professor of poetry at Columbia University's School of the Arts, and the author of three full-length collections of poems.

Read her work on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Deanna Roy makes the USA Today Bestseller List

We wanted to congratulate Deanna Roy, author of Forever Innocent, Forever Loved, and Baby Dust for making the USA Today Bestseller List in January.

Deanna published her first novel with Casey Shay Press in 2011.

 Her next novel, Forever Sheltered, will come out in August 2014. She will be attending the Romantic Times Convention in New Orleans in May and the Romance Writers of America Convention in San Antonio in August.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Announcing the winner of the 2014 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize!

We are pleased to announce the winner of our annual poetry contest: Elaine Mott's Splitting the Velvet Dark.

Elaine Mott left behind a completed, book-length manuscript of poems at her death in 2009. Although she published poems in magazines and anthologies over the years and had won several poetry competitions and been named a poetry fellow at the Breadloaf Writers Conference, her collection was never published. Her son Aaron submitted her work on her behalf.


Our finalist judge was Dorothea Lasky, a professor of poetry at Columbia University's School of the Arts, and the author of three full-length collections of poems including Thunderbird, Black Life, and AWE. She is the 2013 Bagley Wright Fellow in Poetry.

Lasky called Mott's work "a gift" and a guide to help us through our days. "I love this book and I love this poet. She is brave and strong and clear-headed."

Lasky said the book is one to carry through life, if one is like Mott's:

heavy and darkly mysterious
fed by the secret river of her dreaming

Splitting the Velvet Dark will be released in print and as a digital edition in April 2014.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Announcing the finalists for the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize

We had a tough time getting down to our finalists. All the chapbooks at this stage are truly excellent works. Thankfully, the staff is still speaking to each other as various chapbooks were passionately championed and yet, we had to narrow it down to just three.

At the next stage, these three chapbooks will be sent to our poet-judge. While our goal is to have a winner in November, the schedule of our judge will determine when we announce. Finalists, we will be in touch with you every step of the way.

I hope all of you will continue to send your poems out into the world. Our contest will open again in late spring. We're thrilled to have read your work.

And here they are:


Charismata Canticle -- W.F. Lantry

Old News: The Bond Between My Father and Me -- Eva M. Schlesinger

Splitting the Velvet Dark -- Elaine Mott


Congratulations to all of our entrants. It's been a terrific year with 1000 entrants.

Friday, August 30, 2013

We are pleased to announce the semi-finalists for the Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize

We are excited to narrow our field of contenders for the contest to these semi-finalists.

Semi-finalists, keep your simultaneous submissions active, but let us know immediately if you need to withdraw. Three finalists will be selected within two weeks, and we need to be certain these three poets are available to accept their publishing contract upon winning.

Congratulations, poets.

A Benign Sort of Cannibalism -- Lisa Haag Kang
A Woman Passing -- Ruth Holzer
All Roads Lead There -- Kate Hutchinson
Angels Kept Her Feet -- Randy Michael Robinson
Anthems for a Sixteen Year Old Girl -- Emily Marquis
Apostrophes -- Katie Darby Mullins
Bright Lives Broken -- Ace Baker
Charismata Canticle -- W.F. Lantry
Escape to Cyberspace -- Gary Beck
Everyday Love -- Peggy Trojan
Flux Lines -- John C.  Mannone
Gift Snake -- Nina Forsythe
Grace Notes -- Jane Ebihara
Life's Epiphanies -- Angela E. Sarumi
Midwest Science and Poetry Through a Family -- Joyce Frohn
Modern Farming and Other Changes -- Steve Broidy
Music from a Farther Room -- Barbra Nightingale
My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto -- Steve Klepetar
Negative Splits -- Jennifer Marshall Lagedrost
Old News: The Bond Between My Father and Me -- Eva M. Schlesinger
Pulchritude in All Directions -- Don Shook
Ripe -- by Gina Marie Mammano
Sawing a Lady in Half -- Lee Schwartz
Skeletons in the Closet -- Mara Ferguson
Spectrum -- Darrell Lindsey
Splitting the Velvet Dark -- Elaine Mott
That Orangutan Can Sing the Blues -- Alvaro Salinas, Jr.
The Book of Nin -- Joseph Kayne
The Crone at the Cathedral -- Janet McCann
The Edge of Death -- Thea Iberall
The Edge of Never -- Martin Willitts, Jr.
The First Arts -- Tom Holmes
The Flash before the Shadow -- George Such
The Little Blue Hut -- Nancy Charley
The Notion of Wings -- Sally Albiso
The Queen of Flight -- Denise Grier
The Stairs -- Betty Lipton
The Starving Artist and Other Poems -- Michael Nicholson
Tricks of Light -- Issa Lewis
Where Jewish Grandmothers Come From -- Debra Winegarten
Xing: Poems of Movement -- Shauna Osborn

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Quarter Finalists for the 2014 Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize are here

The size of our contest has grown immensely each year. For this, our third Mary Ballard Poetry Chapbook Prize, we have selected 161 quarter finalists.

In the next phase, we will narrow this field to about 30 semifinalists to be announced on August 31. Absolutely keep your simultaneous submissions active during this time, but do let us know if you are accepted elsewhere and need to withdraw. (Two poets got their chapbooks accepted by other publishing companies during the process. Congratulations!)

We will also be talking to our celebrity poet about the timing of judging the finalists, so we can have a rough idea of when we will have a winner this year. We can't wait to tell you about our final judge for the 2014 prize. We've had some wonderful accomplished poets judge our finalists in the past -- Jay Parini and Fred Marchant!

Congratulations poets, and please, if we made an error in your title or name, or you would like us to go ahead and switch to your pseudonym, reply to the email you received when we confirmed your original submission to let us know.

And here they are!

64 Blue Letters -- Constance Alexander
A Benign Sort of Cannibalism -- Lisa Haag Kang
A Liar and a Thief: Robert Rauschenberg Poems --  Jessy Randall
A Poet's Spiritual Walk with Nature -- Steven Jacobson
A Report on Love and Wrestling -- Jeff Tigchelaar
A Woman Passing -- Ruth Holzer
After Midnight -- Gloria MacKay
Aging Space -- Christine Adler
All Roads Lead There -- Kate Hutchinson
All-Nighter -- Anna Rose Gellert
American Ark -- Dante Di Stefano
Angels Kept Her Feet --Randy Michael Robinson
Anthems for a Sixteen Year Old Girl -- Emily Marquis
Any Old Truth -- Leah Miranda Hughes
Apostrophes -- Katie Darby Mullins
Arrows from Bone -- Lisa Cheby
As the Metal Sun Rises -- Kelsey Nicole Lueptow
At night in the room with others -- Lesley Constable
At the Clothesline -- Marjorie Power
Between X and Y -- Elizabeth Rees
Beyond Confusion -- Jane Blanchard
Black Holes of Genocide -- Mimi Harriet Uwineza
Breathing Spaces -- Carmela Co
Brief Cycles -- Maude Larke
Bright Lives Broken -- Ace Baker
Carcinoma Variations -- Jesse Minkert
Charismata Canticle -- W.F. Lantry
Chasing Zero -- Christina M. Rau
Country of Mourning and Awakening -- Annie Dawid
Cracks -- Jane Ellen Glasser
Dawn of My Talent -- Joshua John Chirambwe
Dearest Maxwell -- Zoya Gurm
Defying Gravity -- Sherilyn Lee
Desire for Pulse -- Susan Azar Porterfield
Double Chai -- Erika Dreifus
Eden -- Jennifer Highland
Escape to Cyberspace -- Gary Beck
Evelyn -- Leah Sewell
Everyday Love -- Peggy Trojan
Female, 18-24 -- Cassandra Baliga
Floating over India -- Nancy Goodrich
Flux Lines -- John C.  Mannone
Gift Snake -- Nina Forsythe
Grace Notes -- Jane Ebihara
Half-Hidden -- Diandre Prendimano
Halfway Ever After -- Katherine A. Roche
Heart of Wisdom -- Jacqueline Seewald
Homesick Everywhere -- Robin Amelia Morris
Horseflesh -- Amberle L. Husbands
Hot Gods -- Wendy Taylor Carlisle
How Are You Liking the Scenery -- Janet Barry
I took Goliath home -- Lungile Msimanga
If My Father -- T. Stores
if you're a humming bird -- M.K. Sukach
In a Lonely Place -- Mark Liam Piggott
In Love's Garden -- Elya Braden
In Response to Cancer -- Andora Henson
Independent City -- Jennifer Tappenden
Insufficient Cohesion -- Corey Ginsberg
International Trapeze Act of Fire -- Jen Karetnick
Kingdoms in a Foot of Ground -- Alexandra Fresch
Last Night of Maskmaking -- Carolyn Moore
Lessons in Ruin -- Justin Hamm
Letters to War and Lethe -- Farzana Marie
Life Stages, Love Stages -- Deborah Darby
Life's Epiphanies -- Angela E. Sarumi
Little House, Little Song -- Lauren Gordon
little, kansas -- Sea Sharp
Looking Back -- Tamika Wright
Love Tooth -- Brenda Yates
Man Overboard -- David Denny
Men and Myths -- Savannah Thorne
Messiah Auditions Saturday -- Nancy Devine
Midwest Science and Poetry Through a Family -- Joyce Frohn
Mirage -- RJ Clarken
Modern Farming and Other Changes -- Steve Broidy
Mother -- Mary Stone Dockery
Murdering My Darlings -- Cathy Bryant
Music from a Farther Room -- Barbra Nightingale
My Son Writes a Report on the Warsaw Ghetto -- Steve Klepetar
Negative Splits -- Jennifer Marshall Lagedrost
Nekyia -- Michael Collins
Night Putting -- Joe Hess
Not At All What I Had Expected -- Robin Kalinich
Nowhere Near Morning -- Jeff Bernstein
Old News: The Bond Between My Father and Me -- Eva M. Schlesinger
Other Women's Voices -- Karin L. Frank
Pains and Pleasures of the Kanoli Bank -- Fabiyas MV
Pioneer Children -- Tracey S. Rosenberg
Play -- Jo Angela Edwins
Poetry -- Modester Okafor
Precipice Fruit -- Sara Biggs Chaney
Pregnant Pause -- Desiree Miller
Pulchritude in All Directions -- Don Shook
Rags and Riches of the Soul -- Chantelle Suzuki
Recapitulation -- Rohan Chhetri
Ripe -- by Gina Marie Mammano
Ruina Montium -- Jeremy Dae Paden
Saints, Hymns, and Slanted Miracles -- Teresa Milbrodt
Sandringham Beach -- Gary Devilles
Sawing a Lady in Half -- Lee Schwartz
Saying and Telling -- Janet Cannon
Sea Change -- Carol Smallwood
Seasons of the Keeper -- Cliff Gale
Seven Myths -- Nate Maxon
Seventy-Four Reasons to Visit the Everglades -- Diana Woodcock
Silence and Dreams -- Michael Campagnoli
Sixes and Sevens -- Bonnie J. Morris
Skeletons in the Closet -- Mara Ferguson
sketches and snapshots -- Cynthia Baculi-Condez
Slick -- Rebecca Aronson
Small Hill in a Deep Valley -- Chris Farrell
Sometimes You See the Cracks -- Edward Palumbo
Spectrum -- Darrell Lindsey
Spirited Soul -- Neelam Saxena Chandra
Splitting the Velvet Dark -- Elaine Mott
Spyre -- Jeanine Deibel
Step Touch Back Step -- Heidi Rosenberg
Stitches -- Lauren Payne
Subterranean -- Lisa Alexander Baron
Taming Butterflies -- Eileen Rosensteel
Teachings of the Wild Mushroom -- Monika John
That Orangutan Can Sing the Blues -- Alvaro Salinas, Jr.
The Beckett Girl -- Mercedes Lawry
The Book of Nin -- Joseph Kayne
The Crone at the Cathedral -- Janet McCann
The Deluge -- Su Cho
The Edge of Death -- Thea Iberall
The Edge of Never -- Martin Willitts, Jr.
The Eighth Phrase -- Lisa Williams
The fall of Girl -- Katherine Hoerth
The First Arts -- Tom Holmes
The Flash before the Shadow -- George Such
The Host -- Meg Eden
The Ignited Soul -- Dawnell Harrison
The Intimacy Archive -- Leigh Anne Hornfeldt
The Last -- M.E. Silverman
The Late, Late Show -- Helen Ruggieri
The Little Blue Hut -- Nancy Charley
The Notion of Wings -- Sally Albiso
The Queen of Flight -- Denise Grier
The Silences Between -- Judith Kelly Quaempts
The Small Stays We Work -- Diane Kendig
The Stairs -- Betty Lipton
The Starving Artist and Other Poems by Michael Nicholson
The Waiting Room -- Christine Strevinsky
The Window that Faces South -- Lissav Saksuor
The Year the World Ended…Not -- Walter Ruhlmann
Transport -- Jacob Russell
Tricks of Light -- Issa Lewis
Under-Spoken Odes -- Margaret Rozga
Undreaming Babylon -- Susan DeFreitas
Vermilion Mile -- Jenna Kilic
We Walk Together -- Donna Marie Merritt
What I'm Wearing Today -- Marion Deutsche Cohen
What makes the dawn come up like thunder -- Alex Stolis
What Remains -- Andrena Zawinski
When God Sleeps -- Damara Martin
Where Jewish Grandmothers Come From -- Debra Winegarten
Where the Meadowlark Sings -- Ellaraine Lockie
With This Ring -- Allie Marini Batts
Write of Divorce -- Joan Canby
Zing: Poems of Movement -- Shauna Osborn