May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize

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The May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize is named for May Sarton, the renowned novelist, memoirist, poet, and feminist (1912-1995) who lived for many years in Nelson, New Hampshire, not far from Peterborough, home of William L. Bauhan Publishing. In 1967, she approached Bauhan and asked him to publish her book of poetry, As Does New Hampshire. She wrote the collection to celebrate the bicentennial of Nelson, and dedicated it to the residents of the town.

May Sarton was a prolific writer of poetry, novels, and perhaps what she is best known for—nonfiction on growing older (Recovering: A Journal, Journal of Solitude, among others.) She considered herself a poet, first, though, and in honor of that and to celebrate the centenary of her birth in 2012, Sarah Bauhan, who inherited her father’s small publishing company, launched the prize.

Submissions for the 2023 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize are now open!

Meet our 2023 judge, Brad Crenshaw!


Brad Crenshaw received his MFA and PhD in English from the University of California, Irvine. He later obtained a second PhD in ClinicalPsychology and Neuroscience from the University of Massachusetts. He has worked as a neuropsychologist for many years in a New England tertiary care medical center, and in the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services. His poems and critical articles have appeared in various magazines, including Chicago Review, Parnassus, Massachusetts Review, Shenandoah, The Formalist, The Sandhills Review, Illinois Quarterly, and Faultline. He lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, and part of the year in Santa Cruz, California.

Brad Crenshaw’s most recent book, Memphis Shoals was published in February 2022. His other books are Genealogies, and My Gargantuan Desire. He has also published two poetry chapbooks: Limits of Resurrection, and Propagandas.

Our 2022 winner, Catherine Arnold!


For her collection, Receipt For Lost Words

We are pleased to share the results of our 2022 May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize with all of our treasured submitters. We received another enormous number of submissions this year, and as in previous years, it always leaves our judge with a difficult decision to make.

Rebecca Kaiser Gibson chose Catherine Arnold of Pennsylvania and her collection Receipt For Lost Words as the winner out of the more than 450 worthy entries. Arnold will receive $1,000 prize money, publication of the collection with our spring 2023 titles, 50 author copies, and distribution with Pathway Book Service.

Rebecca had this to say about Catherine’s poems: 

Receipt for Lost Words is

is a mother’s attempt to understand a world in which her child does not, cannot speak. It’s an accounting that Catherine Arnold renders in breathtakingly moving, spaced-apart phrases, little gasps of insight into a parent’s heartbreak, bafflement, and isolation.

“Nature now is what I see through glass.”

And, if we hold our breath through desperate parental denial and efforts to “word the silence,” we

release it when Stella—the one who cannot speak—makes her presence known.

“the strong unhurried length of me/ I am Stella.”

The spare, sensual language of Stella’s point of view stuns—as in this description of her father.

“a big thirsty shape/ the hum of him”

What emerges is a new sense of the world, a magic and fairy-tale shift, in which

“…everything/which seemed to matter before/has been forgotten.”

Catherine Arnold has accomplished nothing less than the embodiment, in words, of wordlessness. A moving receipt for what has been lost.

We’d like to welcome Catherine Arnold to our team and congratulate our finalists and semi-finalists!


Called Back – Rosa Lane, Santa Rosa, California

The Bruise Will Hurt Less Each Time it Gets Bumped – Bridget Bell, Durham, North Carolina


Disaster Relief – Amy Pence, Pine Lake, Georgia

Doll/Face – Melissa Cannon, Antioch, Tennessee

Woman Counting – Marcela Sulak, Ramat Gan, Israel

We would also like to give our sincere thanks and appreciation to to everyone who entered this year’s contest. The caliber of entries was very high. In fact, several manuscripts were withdrawn because they had been accepted for publication elsewhere – congratulations to those submitters!

We hope you will consider resubmitting next year, as each year we pick a different noted poet to judge, and we do not pre-screen manuscripts. All entries go directly to the judge.