Undocupoets Petition Against Contest Discrimination

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We are proud to publish a petition from Undocupoets, the group fighting to end citizenship-based discrimination in poetry publishing and contests. 

Too often, the submission guidelines read “Proof of US Citizenship” or “Legal Residents Only.” This small, but powerful, statement serves to exclude 11.7 million undocumented people (according to the Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends Project in 2013) from participating in a multitude of poetry opportunities—from first book contests to applying for major grants.

Most documented poets and organizers justify this discrimination by saying something along the lines of “large poetry organizations cannot include undocumented people because they (the large poetry organizations) receive government funding and must follow government regulations.” But this should be no excuse for exclusion. We must strive, as a poetry community, to allow ALL of our comrades the same opportunities that documented poets are afforded. No poet should have their opportunities limited because of their immigration status!

What we are asking for is simple—give us the best poems (regardless of the author’s citizenship)! It should be the duty of poetry organizations to find ways to support poets, not to mimic the nation state.

The immediate action which we would like to see take place, is this: We want poetry publishers to open grants and first book contests to people who live in the United States under DACA and TPS.

DACA and TPS are both non-citizenship / non-permanent resident statuses which allow people to live in the United States with a social security number (meaning they can open a bank account, work, and pay taxes in this country). There are a number of government grants which allow people with these statuses to receive funding. If poetry organizations do NOT allow non-citizens / non-residents to apply because of government funding, then we are asking them to check about the eligibility of funding for people with DACA and TPS. This does make a difference!

As of July 2014, there are 587, 366 young people in the U.S. who were given DACA (according to The Center for American Progress). Also, there are another 340,000 people in the United States who hold TPS (according to the Migration Policy Institute in 2014).

Here is a short list of (some) first book prizes that DO NOT allow undocumented poets to apply:

Walt Whitman Poetry Contest

The Yale Series of Younger Poets

The National Poetry Series

Crab Orchard First Book Prize

A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize (BOA Editions)

American Poetry Review (Honickman First Book Prize)

Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry (Sarabande Books)

Lexi Rudnitsky Poetry Prize (Persea Books)

Our long-term goal for this project is to completely eliminate “proof of citizenship” or “permanent residency” as a requirement to poets applying for first book prizes. We know that this is possible because there are already a number of established publishers which withhold from such passport checks. Some of the organizations (that are UNDOCUPOET-FRIENDLY) include:

Cave Canem Poetry Prize

Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (University of Norte Dame Press)

Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry

The Iowa Poetry Prize

The Ottoline Prize from Fence Books

Omnidawn Poetry Book Contest

Pearl Poetry Book Prize

It is time for a change! We must begin to discuss alternatives to the status quo. We must look for ways to open all first book contests (and grants and residencies) to Undocupoets. Please consider how Undocupoet-friendly organizations find funding, how these organizations are capable of supporting all poets (regardless of status). Please stand in solidarity with ALL UNDOCUPOETS who are asking for the opportunity to share their writing with the world. We need these passport checks to stop now!

Below this essay is a petition of 400+ signatures from poets, publishers, critics, academics, and some of our friends. We hope that you will bring this petition into your organization (if they ask for proof of US citizenship / permanent residency) and begin discussing alternatives to documentation checks. Your voice matters!

With Many Thanks,

Marcelo Hernandez Castillo, Javier Zamora, Christopher Soto

(& All Undocupoets)

Christopher Soto
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
Javier Zamora
Erika L. Sánchez
Christopher L. O’Dell
Eduardo Gabrieloff
Lauren Espinoza
Joshua McKinney
Brett Hall Jones
Jordan W Reynolds
Jose Antonio Rodriguez
Kenzie Allen
Diego Báez
sally allen mcnall
Eduardo C. Corral
Laura Kasischke
Urayoan Noel
Barbara Brinson Curiel
Brenda Hillman
Darrel Alejandro Holnes
Jessica Bergamino
Lisa Jones
Gloria Amescua
Ching-In Chen
Lynn Melnick
Rigoberto González
C. David Scronce
Adam Fitzgerald
francine j. harris
Leah C Kaminski
Manuel Paul López
Rosebud Ben-Oni
Rebecca Foust
Rebecca Foust
Lupe Mendez
Tiffany Denman
David Roderick
Norma Elia Cantu
Giuliani Alvarenga
Lara Gularte
Matthew Nienow
Christopher Ross
Robin Ekiss
Stephen Burt
Morgan Parker
Anthony Cody
Eugenia Leigh
David Tomas Martinez
Joseph Ross
Roberto Tejada
Joyelle McSweeney
Johannes Göransson
Francis Santana
Amy Hoffmann
Denise Dooley
Brittany Bennett
Cecilio Palacio Jr
Rubi Hernandez
Momo Manalang R.
Yosimar Reyes
Brittany Rabia Eshal
José Guadalupe Olivarez
Marisel Moreno
Eva Trimarchi
Kat Finch
Peggy Robles Alvarado
Sara Zavaleta
autumn lynch
Julia Allen
Rachel Gonzalez Greene
Bruce Lack
Robert Siek
Allie Tova Hirsch
Brooke Ellsworth
Jameson Fitzpatrick
Francisco Aragon
Suzanne Garcia
C. Dale Young
Joshua Duval
Javier O. Huerta
Lynda Letona
Leon Salvatierra
jos charles
Angelica Isai Becerra
Meg Withers
Blanca Hernandez
Christina Sisk
Emily Nagin
Roberto Montes
Justin Sherwood
Rae Paris
Vanessa Alejandra Bailey
Sarah Browning
Mairead Small Staid
Derrick Austin
Tim Earley
Amanda Rybin Koob
Chris Wilson
Adeeba Talukder
Miguel Angel Angeles
Richard Yanez
Sarah Einstein
Willy Palomo
Ron Mohring
Monica Sok
Jonterri Gadson
Gray Thomas
John F. Buckley
Natalie Scenters-Zapico
Matthew Wimberley
J.R. Martinez
Naima Woods
Heidi Andrea Restrepo Rhodes
Hieu Minh Nguyen
DH Varma
Mary Camille Beckman
Baruch Porras Hernandez
James Domingo Francisco Madrigal
Miranda Cary
Michael Powers
Leah Falk
Bret Nye
Stephanie Ford
Wo Chan
Joanne Diaz
Jose Skinner
Alexander Yann
Reem Abu-Baker
K. Jane Childs
Isaac Ginsberg Miller
Zoe Mungin
Joseph O. Legaspi
Keith Taylor
Carolina Silva
Ryan Wong
Jenna Le
Jocelyn Sears
TC Tolbert
Miguel M. Morales
Linda Rodriguez
Nate Marshall
Mitra Pedram
Joseph Rios
Jade Brooks
Cristal M. Garcia
Julia Harris
Amanda Calderon
Evan Chen
Chase Berggrun
Laura X
Lauren Roberts
Paco Marquez
Henry Mills
Elisa Gonzalez
Brionne Janae
Robreto Lovato
Vickie Vertiz
Danny Alexander
Norma Liliana Valdez
Nicholas Reiner
Steve Werkmeister
Darren J. de Leon
Sebastian H Paramo
michael sedano
Carissa Garcia
Eric McDowell
Suzana Huerta
Sonia Arora
Jamaal May
Marilyn Hackert
Jade Cho
Wilhelmina K. Yang-Xudonazarova
Arman Singh
Alice E. Ladrick
Sharon Coleman
Rose Simons
Jenny Johnson
D. Gilson
Michelle Lin
Sam Ross
Lauren Russell
Anis Shivani
Christine Blubaugh
Alicia Salvadeo
Susan Schweik
Pat Soberanis
ryanKauffman
Soren Stockman
Marina Tristan
Melissa Dias-Mandoly
Lisa Lee
Eloisa Perez-Lozano
Cathy Linh Che
Celeste Guzmán Mendoza
Aida Salazar
Ae Hee Lee
Fatimah Asghar
Jia Oak Baker
Henry W. Leung
Angel Garcia
Julian Day-Cooney
Matthew Klam
ire’ne lara silva
Jacob Saenz
Janine Joseph
Paul Aponte
Craig Rebele
Farnoosh Fathi
Jack Andrew Gillard
Juan J. Morales
Philip Metres
Muriel Leung
Sergio Rodriguez
Jose Luis Ramirez, Jr.
Eric Linsker
Nicole Sealey
Deborah Paredez
Sergio Marin
Shelagh Patterson
zakia henderson-brown
Dawn Lundy Martin
Elizabeth Acevedo
Karin Mak
Brent Armendinger
Fady Joudah
Eddie Kim
Emily Wallis Hughes
Rusty Morrison, Omnidawn Publishing
Alma Zaragoza-petty
Bridget G. Dooley
Alison Rosetta Barna
Nayelly Barrios
Johnny Sittisin
Sheila Stowell
Alex-Quan Pham
Jayson Smith
Elana Friedland
Eric St. James Lopez
Keetje Kuipers
Ashley Edwards
XinMing Chang
Patricia Zambrano
Jami Proctor-Xu
Steve Fellner
Nicole Robinson
T Wynn
Aracelis Girmay
H. Melt
Devon Branca
Luke Hollis
Fernanda Marroquin
Lucy Biederman
Nicholas Wong
Catherine Pikula
Jay Santa Cruz
Nancy Rodriguez
Juan Luis Guzmán
Jai Arun Ravine
Dianna Henning
Mike Lala
Ashley Romano
Toby Altman
April Flynn
Martha Stromberger
Liz Peters
Christine Larusso
Leora Fridman
Lisa Hiton
Christine Kanownik
Sarah Jean Grimm
Shanna Compton
Ife-Chudeni A. Oputa
François Luong
ben rosenberg
Metta Sáma
lars palm
Lauren Traetto
Benjamin D. Alfaro
Elisabeth Workman
Saretta Morgan
Maria Damon
Rachael Katz
Benjamin Goldberg
Meg McKeon
Adela Najarro
Lynne Procope
Amber Atiya
Eduardo Martinez-Leyva
Nick Lantz
Andrea Blancas Beltran
Robert Michael O’Brien
Jose j Zamora
Ivan Rosales
Amanda McConnon
Caolan Madden
Paul Cunningham
Greg Lewis
Joey De Jesus
Marina Weiss
Solmaz Sharif
Amanda Killian
Sam Schreiber
Rachel Richardson
Jeffrey Pethybridge
Kenneth Fields
luz chavez
Ana Flores
Matthew Moore
Stefa Marin Alarcon
Kaveh Akbar
gabriel schubiner
Ari Banias
Kaitlyn Greenidge
Michael Shewmaker
Adam Roberts
Alex Guarco
Levi Rubeck
Camille Dungy
Kara Candito
Michael Brokos
Aleksei Wagner
Sam Hall
Tom Carrigan
Sahar Muradi
Angel García
Sophie Herron
Allison Davis
Hossannah Asuncion
Nathan Kemp
Jennifer Nelson
Hannah Aizenman
Gilda Ochoa
Taylor Brady
Carrie Ross
Esther Lee
Evie Shockley
Jeffrey Boyle
Paul Tran
Paul Hlava
Lisa Chen
Anya Groner
A. Hayes
Sara Brickman
Erica Charis
Geraldine Leibot
Rio Cortez
Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib
Maya Chinchilla
Victoria McCoy
Lauren Marks
Maurisa Thompson
Elisa Chavez
Chrissy Anderson-Zavala
Hafeez Lakhani
Tarfia Faizullah
Sarah Dayley
Jason Bayani
Antonio Ruiz-Camacho
Amy Meng
Steven Karl
Chanelle Aponte Pearson
Noel Pabillo Mariano
Andrew Wilson
Joseph Kane
Taj Emilio Tucker
Vanessa Huang
David Hornibrook
Viridiana Chabolla
Temar France
Jose Otero
Brian Trimboli
Mahogany L. Browne
David Winter
mónica teresa ortiz
Joy KMT
Sara Eliza Johnson
Sarah Roth
Ocean Vuong
Ami Mattison
Beck Gross
J. Scott Brownlee
Reginald Harris
Adrienne Brock
Anna Ríos
Michael Nordenberg
P.E. Garcia
Joe Pan
Julie McConnell
Sam sax
Amy Gerstler
Tristan Beach
Desiree Sparks
Lizzy Sobiesk
Cecca Ochoa
Alexandra Watson
Alberto V Hernández
Stephanie Cawley
Alok Vaid-Menon
Maya Greenfield-Thong
Nicholas C Fuenzalida
N.Alea
Victoria Kornick
Lorraine Coulter

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    1 Response

    1. Marthe Reed

      Please eliminate “proof of citizenship” or “permanent residency” as a requirement to poets applying for first book prizes.

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