Guidelines for Contests and Regular Submissions: 

  • We read non-contest submissions year-round.  Contest submissions have specific reading dates.
  • We consider up to five poems or flash fictions (500 words or less) for each submission 
  • Poems and flash fiction submitted may not have been published elsewhere.
  • We accept simultaneous submissions. Please let us know if your work has been accepted elsewhere. 

Address any questions to:
Michael Malan, Editor
Cloudbank, PO Box 610,
Corvallis, Oregon 97339-0610

Book of Years by Doug Ramspeck is the runner up for the Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize 2021. 80 pages. Ramspeck is the author of eight poetry collections, one collection of short stories, and a novella. A retired professor of English from The Ohio State University at Lima, he lives in Black Mountain, North Carolina.

The poems in Doug Ramspeck’s Book of Years explore, as one carefully crafted lineation effect puts it, “the life of the unmade,” and discover “the way a cut flower adorns the temporary” and “clouds/going by like the uncut hair of the dead.” The dead, and the past they inhabit, inform the present in this collection in which everything can become “beautiful with forgetfulness.” And the living are here too, often in the form of a wife listening, with the speaker, to “the moon/interrogating the land” and to how rain can be “an illusion of speech//against the eaves.” These poems are elaborate and evocative constructs that offer insight and, more significantly, consolation, which is something we need, it might be said, now more than ever.
     —George Looney, author of The Itinerate Circus: New and Selected Poems 1995-2020

Long Voyage Gathering Light by John Kooistra is the winner of the 2021 Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize. 

Every line in John Kooistra’s poetry in Long Voyage Gathering Light is one more step deeper—not just into the landscape of the world but also of the mind. Sure-footed but open to surprise, linked not just to place but the connections between places, these poems do not hesitate to crunch down to inspect a small track in the snow, or to stand up straight to take hold of an epiphany as sudden and miraculous as Elizabeth Bishop’s moose. Though “. . .cars / shrink to nothing / in the long gaps / between yard lights,” John Kooistra never sleeps in his voyages between Alaska and Ohio, the past and the present, the deep breathing of ideas and the persuasion of wilderness. Kooistra in his poems always finds those crucial moments when the mind needs to pay attention, “the last of the sunset / flaming like a stained glass window.” But he also knows when to shut up and let the world talk: “The sense in all this / I now make a mystery / by asking.”  A salmon fisher for many years on Cook Inlet, Kooistra also knew how to the repair the engine on his boat to keep himself alive. It’s that same ability to take apart and put together small parts into something big and powerful that makes his poems strong for their long voyage. Expertise and patience. Grease and metaphor. 

—Dan Bourne

• The winner of the Vern Rutsala Book Prize wins an immediate cash prize of $1000 and publication of the book.
• Cloudbank poetry editors seek a wide range of styles, approaches, forms, and aesthetics (for example: lyric, prose poems, experimental, flash fiction (up to 500 words), etc).
• Electronic and postal submissions are accepted from around the world with no citizenship limitations.
• The judge is Doug Ramspeck.
Due date: October 31, 2021. Reading fee is $25.
1. Simultaneous submissions and multiple submissions are acceptable.
2. Revisions are not allowed during the contest.
3. Manuscript submissions must be original. (If you include quotes from other works in your manuscript, please be sure they are clearly attributed to the author either on the same page or in a “Notes” section at the back of the manuscript.)
4. Manuscripts must be in English, although it is perfectly acceptable to include some text in other languages.
5. Manuscripts must be previously unpublished, although individual poems in a manuscript are still eligible for this contest if they have been previously published in print or web magazines, journals, anthologies, or on a personal website.
6. Manuscripts should be 60 to 90 pages. Enclose two cover sheets with your submission, one with your contact information and one without.

Cloudbank editors seek a wide range of styles, approaches, forms, and aesthetics (for example: lyric, prose poems, experimental, flash fiction, etc). 

Please submit up to five poems; your name and address should appear on each page. 

We are happy to accept simultaneous submissions, but please so let us know if your work has been accepted elsewhere. 
Two contributors’ copies will be sent to writers whose work appears in the magazine. 

Please submit up to five pieces of flash fiction (no more than 500 words per piece); your name and address should appear on each page. 

We are happy to accept simultaneous submissions, but please so let us know if your work has been accepted elsewhere. 
Two contributors’ copies will be sent to writers whose work appears in the magazine. 

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My Bright Last Country by Jane Craven is the winner of the 2020 Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize.

The poems are evocative explorations of a woman moving through the world, simultaneously burdened and enriched by her familial past and her own experience. In “The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige” a dead father is remembered as a working man, then touchingly comes to life as a vulnerable child in a Japanese scroll. Craven laments the disappearing natural world in “88 Roads” which describes the aftermath of a flood in a rural county with “its empty highway/ slick with river fish” and its “Huffys tangled in telephone wires, 6,000 hogs/ whose waterlogged bodies knocked against sheet metal/ for days.” These are moving poems of regard in which Craven looks closely, attentively, to reveal the astonishing connective tissues that bind us to others and to the natural world.   

Jane Craven grew up in North Carolina and holds an MFA from North Carolina State University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Beloit Journal, The Columbia Review, Tar River Poetry, The Southern Humanities Review and other journals. Her poem, “The Sketchbooks of Hiroshige,” won first prize in The MacGuffin’s 2019 Poet Hunt Contest, guest judged by Richard Tillinghast.

Tarzan's Jungle Plane, prose poetry by Cloudbank editor Michael Malan, is now available. Michael's writing has appeared in numerous journals over the years and this, his second full-length collection, was published by Blue Light Press.  Along with the title poem, this collection includes stories about "Chippewa Street," "Twins," "A Dangerous Woman," and "Richie Rich at Glacier Point."

Praise for this book include these comments by Richard Jones, author of Stranger on Earth: I love how real, how tangible the imaginary worlds of Michael Malan’s prose poems are—their immediacy and intimacy—as well as their accurate portrayal of the human desire to balance history, psychology, and imagination like so many plates spinning atop poles. These exhilarating paragraphs are a delight. As soon as one suspects the tug of easy irony, veils are swept away to astonish as the poet reveals vistas, insights, and what feels to me like truth. 

Weatherbox by Timothy Geiger is the winner of Cloudbank's 2019 Vern Rutsala Poetry Prize. Starting with a Charles Wright quote that emphasizes taking a hard look at one's surroundings, poems in Weatherbox look deep into both the rush of everyday experience and the ruins of memory. From “the hammered grace/ of a goldfinch mid-air” to “the bare foot-trails/ furrowed beneath/ the abandoned swingset” the imagery and imagination in these poems become prayers, or stories, or meditations, striving for the hardest answers from the forces that drive our common humanity. 

Timothy Geiger is the author of two other poetry collections, The Curse of Pheromones (Main Street Rag Press, 2008) and Blue Light Factory (Spoon River Poetry Press, 1999). He is also the author of nine chapbooks. His poems have received a Pushcart Prize and a Holt, Rinehart & Winston Award in Literature. Along with his work on the award-winning Aureole Press, he teaches Creative Writing, Poetry, and courses in Book Design at the University of Toledo. He lives in Ottawa Hills, Ohio.