Ends on June 30, 2019

$20.00 USD

Deadline: June 15, 2019

Judge: Ladan Osman

Prize: $500



How do we know who is on our side? Is it possible for someone who is not like us to share our same hopes? Can links forged by empathy or mutual interest match those created by shared experience? What can we gain from alliances that we cannot achieve on our own?These are difficult question to answer even in intimate settings, and more so in arenas of cultural and political struggle. We want the sharpest stories about trust, bridge-building, difference, and betrayal. Drawing on the prophetic power of the imagination to conjure both the possible dangers and life-giving possibilities of alliances—be they political, private (such as marriage), therapeutic, or even aesthetic (between readers and writers, for example). We are open to this theme being explored in every style of poetry. We're especially interested to see these themes explored in the context of race, sex and sexuality, and identity (both politically and privately).



Ladan Osman 

Ladan Osman is the author of Exiles of Eden (2019) and The Kitchen-Dweller's Testimony (2015). Her writing and photographs have recently appeared in World Literature Today and The Kenyon Review. She lives in Brooklyn.



This form is for paid entry for those living in the U.S., Canada, and Western Europe. For those living outside of those countries, as well as those experiencing hardship, please enter the contest for free HERE.

Complete guidelines:

  • All entries must be related to this year’s theme of allies. We want the theme to be very broadly interpreted, but we also shouldn’t have to guess at the connection between the theme and your entry.
  • The winning author will receive $500 and have their work published in Boston Review's special literary issue Allies. Numerous runners-up will also be published in the issue.
  • Send us up to 5 poems or 10 pages, which comes first. All work must be previously unpublished. No cover note is necessary, and names should not appear anywhere in the submission. All entries much be in English; translations are acceptable if they are done in collaboration with the author and the poems are unpublished in any language.
  • Simultaneous submissions are not permitted; if you submit your poems to another publication, you must withdraw it via Submittable.
  • Submissions may not be modified after entry.
  • Contest entrants cannot have a personal or professional relationship with this year’s judge, Ladan Osman, or with any editors or staff at Boston Review.
  • Make sure your mailing address in Submittable is correct, as this is the address where your free copy of Allies will be sent in the fall of 2019. 

Read winning poems from past years: