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CityLit Press announces the return of the Harriss Poetry Prize chapbook competition for poets not previously published in book-length form. Scroll below for information about previous winners.

Click here for details about the 2019 contest (December 1 deadline)!

CityLit Press's mission is to provide a venue for writers who might otherwise be overlooked by larger publishers due to the literary nature or regional focus of their projects.  Want the full story?  Check out Heather Harris's terrific piece in City Paper (9/15/2010).

CityLit Press extends CityLit Project's mission by connecting writers with readers in an on-going effort to nurture the culture of literature. 

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For more information, contact or call 410.274.5691.


Basilio Boullosa Stars in the Fountain of Highlandtown
Rafael Alvarez

Commemorating the 20th anniversary of the publication of The Fountain of Highlandtown, this new collection of fiction from a master storyteller continues to mine the lives of Americans we rarely hear about. In Basilio Boullosa Stars in the Fountain of Highlandtown, Rafael Alvarez returns to his main theme of exile, the heartbreak of leaving and being left behind set to the sound track of the Beatles, Dylan, and Zappa. From the East Baltimore immigrants stirring the old country back to life in deep-bellied pots and cast iron skillets to the lovers stroking the relics of lost romance, Alvarez's characters yearn for the lost and struggle mightily to make memory as tangible as flesh.

From National Book Award winner James McBride: "Rafael Alvarez's talents--poetic deftness, tight dialogue, burning descriptive passages laid out with seeming ease--show why he was one of the gifted writers that turned The Wire into the greatest show in television history. These are stories from the treasure chest of one of America's most talented scribes, and I am glad he shared them with us."

Clash by Night
Gerry LaFemina and Gregg Wilhelm

First in the Lo-fi Poetry Series, this anthology takes inspiration from The Clash's seminal album 1979 album, London Calling. Forty poets contributed to the volume covering each of 19 tracks plus "Liner Notes" sections of poems that reflect on the power of the album as a whole. This eclectic range of verse-scholarly, heartfelt, bombastic-transports readers back to their own age of rebellion, whether that happened on the banks of the Thames or the East River, in a small town or on the wide open plains. Lo-fi Poetry: Poets cover your record collection. Gerry LaFemina is the author of eleven books of poetry and prose including Vanishing Horizon, Notes for the Novice Ventriloquist, and Little Heretic. He directs the Center for Creative Writing at Frostburg State University. In 2004, Gregg Wilhelm founded CityLit Project in Baltimore and launched its CityLit Press imprint in 2010. He received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Tampa in 2014.

Ripple Meets the Deep
Jason Tinney

A man attempts to make a fresh start by reclaiming domain over his yard with the last birthday gift from his ex-wife, a lawnmower. A couple discovers Faulkner, shrimp and grits, Morgan Freeman, and how much they don't know about each other. A son reconnects with a distant father and his dog while "bucket-sitting" on a frozen lake. Weaving through these stories and more, a wandering musician-tackle box full of harmonicas in tow-is audience to his transient neighbors residing at a La Quinta Inn and Suites. At times funny, often close to the bone, always poignant, Ripple Meets the Deep defines the voice of a true storyteller whose tales of flawed people are at once local and expansive. Jason Tinney is a fiction writer, poet, and freelance journalist. He co-founded and performs with Donegal X-Press and The Wayfarers. He lives in Maryland.

Habana Libre (Novella)
E-book Version (Nook)
Tim Wendel

The distance between Cuba and the United States: tantalizingly close yet worlds apart. When a beautiful showgirl married to Cuba's most famous baseball player escapes to the sea, only a boy and a boat and a belief in the "American Dream" keep her afloat. Planning to rendezvous with her husband after an exhibition game in El Norte, the show girl risks everything only to discover that crossing the straits might be easier than spanning allegiances. Set against the backdrop of actual games played between the Cuba National Team and the Baltimore Orioles, Habana Libre is the story of people caught between home and hope.

Battle Creek: A Tale of Slavery and Freedom in Colonial Maryland

Neil Didriksen

After his father dies at sea, a fourteen-year-old boy struggles to survive in colonial Maryland, to gain his freedom from the man who buys him, and to rescue his sister who has been sold to another master. This story of slavery and freedom explores the world of English settlers, native peoples, and enslaved Africans who carve out new lives along the edges of the Chesapeake Bay (middle-grade readers).

It Can Be Solved By Walking
Jennifer Wallace

This collection of poems and photographs blends two art forms to capture glimpses of a city that explore the sights, sounds, and flavors of the its urban ecology. Wallace blends two art forms to capture glimpses of a city: its history, its pride, its squalor, its nature, and its people. Through graceful verse and haunting photographs, Wallace creates a psychoecology of this city, Baltimore, that explore the sights, sounds, and flavors of the its urban ecology. Wallace teaches at the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is a poetry editor at The Cortland Review and a founding editor of Toadlily Press.

A Peachy Life: Waiting on Tables and Beating the Odds in the '60s--An Italian-American Woman's Story
Leonora "Peachy" DiPietro Dixon

A faithful wife and practicing Catholic makes the bravest decision of her life: to leave her abusive, drug-addicted husband and set on her own in the late '60s.  She supports two children through a series of waitressing jobs at storied Baltimore restaurants: the rotating restaurant atop the Holiday Inn, Johnny Unitas's Golden Arm, and the quintessential Little Italy restaurant, Sabatino's.

An Easy Place / To Die
Vincent Cellucci

An Easy Place / To Die is a poetic journey through New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The first section wakes with city, culture, and mythmaking as introductions into poetry and a life. The second section wanders through the social world, specifically the defenses and offenses of lovemaking. The third section is intensely personal and examines uncontrollable events. For the penultimate section, the lyric returns as an elixir to extinction and the book climatically concludes with a long, projective finale that emphasizes presence. These poems spring out of the "nagbu," or well of poetic history, specifically the tragedy of Gilgamesh, answer Eliot's The Wasteland, and allude to both as "beginning" and "ending" epic poems in the book's Joycean scaffolding. "Cellucci makes {words} carry several kinds of speech in the most concise and musical manner," comments Andrei Codrescu.

City Sages: Baltimore
Jen Michalski (Editor)

Anthology of writers past and present who have called Baltimore home. Edited by Jen Michalski, this first-ever anthology of some of Baltimore's best writers includes both famous and not-yet-famous scribes, both dead and alive. Michalski's objective was to represent an array of writers over a period of time who were born in Baltimore or lived in the city. The anthology includes pieces by seminal writers such as Edgar Allan Poe, Gertrude Stein, Zora Neal Hurston, Frederick Douglass, and F. Scott Fitzgerald; contemporary writers such as Laura Lippman, Anne Tyler, Madison Smartt Bell, Michael Kimball, Alice McDermott, Jessica Anya Blau, and Rafael Alvarez; and emerging writers such as Rosalia Scalia, Caryn Coyle, Joe Young, and Adam Robinson.


The Clarinda Harriss Poetry Prize (Click link for guidelines)

Series Editor: Kwame Alexander
Series Founder: Michael Salcman

Description: The Prize is named in honor of Clarinda Harriss, eminent Maryland poet, publisher, and professor of English at Towson University (for poets not previously published in book-length form).

Oblige the Light
Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka
2014 Winner
Judge: Michael Salcman

Winner of CityLit Press's fifth annual Harriss Poetry Prize, Oblige the Light takes readers to "a magical space." From the introduction by judge Michael Salcman: "Astonishing metaphors and precise description of natural forces and historical events results in an atmospheric Magical Realism that borders on the Surrealistic. There is an emotional reserve that is almost gnomic so that life's most important subjects-the death of a parent, political oppression, one's aesthetic response to art and nature-can be discussed without forced sentimentality. The poems are the work of a profoundly serious temperament and a professional translator of world into word. Danuta E. Kosk-Kosicka is a scientist, bilingual poet, writer, poetry translator, photographer, and co-editor of the literary journal Loch Raven Review. Her poems have appeared in the USA and throughout Europe in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including International Poetry Review, Little Patuxent Review, The Baltimore Review, Passager, and Spillway.


Rebekah Remington
2013 Winner
Judge: Marie Howe

Winner of the fourth annual Harriss Poetry Prize chapbook contest judged by Marie Howe, who “loves how Remington’s mind moves from this to that in some utterly lived syllogism (‘What looks like failure is something else’). I love how the poet—desperate as the rest of us—loves the world.” Rebekah Remington holds a BA from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of Michigan. Her poetry has appeared in Linebreak, The Missouri Review, Ninth Letter, Bellingham Review Online, Hayden Ferry's Review, Smartish Pace, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of two Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Awards in poetry. In addition to writing, Remington has worked as a speech-language pathologist for the Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Baltimore City Public Schools.

Every Bit of It
Katherine Bogden

2012 Winner
Judge: Tom Lux

Winner of CityLit Press's third annual Harriss Poetry Prize, "Every Bit of It" marks the further emergence of poet Katherine Bogden. Judge Tom Lux said: "This book reveals by what it hides. It tells a deeply human story and tells it slant, as Emily Dickinson said, when she was talking about how originality might come about. And that's what these poems are: original. And alive." Bogden lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she is an editor at Ugly Duckling Presse. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College.


Bruce Sager
2011 Winner
Judge: Dick Allen

Winner of the second annual Harriss Poetry Prize, Famous by Bruce Sager was called a "tour de force" by contest judge Dick Allen. Allen, Connecticut's Poet Laureate, described the poet's voice as "self-conscious, knowledgeable, confident, wacky, exuberant" He continued: "Only twice before, in the many times I've judged poetry contests, has a poet's work stood out as strongly as Sager's." Launched in 2009, the Harriss Poetry Prize is named in honor of Clarinda Harriss, eminent Baltimore poet, publisher, and professor of English.

Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone

Laura Shovan
2010 Winner
Judge: Michael Salcman

The taste of a penny. Running for the bus. Carpets rolled and stacked like logs into a child's mountain. Laura Shovan mines gems from the everyday caverns of life. From these moments Shovan collected Mountain, Log, Salt, and Stone, inaugural winner of the Clarinda Harriss Poetry Prize. In rounds of blind judging, Shovan's entry topped submissions by finalists from Oregon and Washington state. Nearly forty writers entered CityLit Press's first chapbook contest, which was judged by art critic and poet Michael Salcman.

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