For a quick rundown of my newsletter, check out my interview with Trish Hopkinson. For the long version, read on.

Never a Contest is a promotion project to showcase poets who have not yet won a literary contest or published a full-length book or chapbook. Each letter will feature curated poems previously published by one writer, drawn from literary magazines and journals. And the letter will always be free.

This letter is run by Brandon North. I am just another heavily indebted, overeducated poet, writer, and musician who feels the contest model for publishing writers, especially for poets, does more harm than good as it currently operates.

Though I have no money myself to support poets who are being kept from audiences via the contest model’s gatekeepers and gatekeeping logic, I can run this newsletter to promote poets who haven't had the money, luck, connections, lucky connections brought on by money, or other circumstances required to win contests. I also can—and will—write a critical reflection on the poems I feature in each letter, helping subscribers to appreciate the work of a relatively unknown poet. This is not for “emerging” or (gulp) “rising” writers; it’s for writers being kept beneath the soil.

By signing up with your email, you’ll receive an introduction to a poet and their work. I plan to send the letter out at least once a month, possibly twice in the future if it is feasible. I won't sendanything unrelated to this letter to you.


This is a very niche project, so my submission guidelines are specific.

To be eligible to submit, you cannot have published a book or chapbook of any kind and you must not havewonany contest with a press, magazine, university, arts organization, etc. This includes competitive residencies and fellowships, as they are both essentially contests of a sort; the exception to this rule is if your fellowship was granted to you by your university when you were a student.

Submissions should be sent to Please send links or jpeg images (if work is in print or not online) of 4-6 poems totaling no more than ten pages. Poems must be previously published, but they can be from anywhere that isn't a book. Being published in many different places isn't a requirement, though having four total poems published is.

Submissions will be open for the last two weeks of each month, from the 14th to the last day of the month. Poems will be considered for future issues, but if you don’t hear back in 6 months, assume I’ve passed on your submission.

Rights to republish your work must have reverted to you; most journals automatically do this once the work has first appeared in their pages (sometimes for a certain amount of time), but double-check with them if you’re unsure.

I will be looking for collections of poems that cohere in some way, though this is not a requirement for selection. What I'm looking for most are original writers. Writers I've never read but when I do, I feel as though, yes, I do in fact know them.

Finally, all writers and styles are welcome so long as they do not advocate violence, disparage others, or promote unethical viewpoints. I reserve the right to reject a submission that doesn't meet these standards.