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Blessing the Boats Selections

Blessing the Boats Selections

Next Open Reading Period: December 1, 2021 - January 5, 2022

2021-2023 Editor-at-Large: Aracelis Girmay

Winner Receives: 

  • Book publication by BOA Editions, Ltd. in Fall 2022
  • $5,000 honorarium

Blessing the Boats Selections spotlights poetry collections by women of color. As the 2021-2023 Blessing the Boats Selections Editor-at-Large, Aracelis Girmay will read submissions and select the final manuscript for publication. Blessing the Boats Selections is named after Lucille Clifton’s National Book Award-winning collection, Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems (BOA, 2000), in honor and celebration of her enduring legacy. Lucille Clifton's writings of Black life and Black female life have shaped a sense of what is possible for so many. In the poem that begins "won't you celebrate with me," she writes: "born in babylon / both nonwhite and woman / what did i see to be except myself?" Blessing the Boats Selections titles walk behind and grow out of the poetry of those lines. Submissions are thus open to all women poets of color in the U.S., including poets who identify as cis, trans, and non-binary people who are comfortable in a space that centers on women’s experiences, regardless of citizenship and publication history. Our hope is that the Blessing the Boats Selections will further facilitate encounters between readers and writers of some of the most extraordinary texts of our time. 

Only paper submissions will be accepted. Please see the guidelines below for details.

Submission Guidelines:


  • Submit only one book-length, complete manuscript at a time. If two manuscripts are sent, both will be recycled.
  • Manuscript should be a minimum of 48 pages, maximum of 100 pages of poetry.
  • Manuscript text should be at least 12 pt. font. Manuscript pages should be one-sided.
  • Include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) with sufficient return postage.
  • Include a cover letter. Do not include a résumé or vitae.
  • Please include your phone number and/or email address on the cover letter.
  • Simultaneous submissions are okay. Note simultaneous submissions in your cover letter and notify BOA immediately should your submission be accepted elsewhere.
  • Include title, publisher, and publication year of previous full-length poetry collections you have published, if any. Feel free to include an acknowledgments page for any previously published poems in your manuscript. 
  • Please note that manuscripts will be recycled, not returned.
  • There is no submission fee associated with this reading period.
  • Family members, or any students who have studied poetry or fiction or literature with Aracelis Girmay in the past four years, whether that be through a university, a community setting or a tutorial are prohibited from consideration. 

Manuscript submissions may be mailed to:

BOA Editions, Ltd.
ATTN: Blessing the Boats Selections
250 North Goodman Street, Suite 306
Rochester, NY 14607

Answers to FAQs:

  • The winner will be announced in Spring 2022.
  • The winning manuscript will be published in Fall 2022, in an original paperback edition and an e-book edition of the American Poets Continuum Series, with a standard royalties package.
  • The winner will retain full copyright of their work.
  • The paper from all manuscripts will be recycled after the winner is announced.
  • BOA Editions assumes no responsibility for loss of manuscripts.
  • As this is an open reading period rather than a contest, submissions are not read blind.

Show current Blessing the Boats Selections

Blessing the Boats Selections

Casual Conversation, Renia White

Letters to a Young Brown Girl, Barbara Jane Reyes

Year of the Dog, Deborah Paredez