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Joe Hoover, S.J.January 06, 2023

America’s Foley Poetry Contest, which is now open for submissions, brings in over 1,000 entries a year and includes every subject matter under the sun. Winners of past Foley contests include a poem about a tiny flaw in a man’s vision (“Blind Spot,” by Bruce McBirney); a new father listening to a fetal heartbeat (“Ode to the Heart: Sixteenth Week,” by Brent Newsom); the Thai cave rescue (“Arise,” by Marjorie Maddox); a woman who finds a “mother” in everything from a milk carton to the waiving of a library fee (“Raising Mothers,” by Preeti Vagnani); a lovely poem called “Whales,” by Richard Lewis, which is about—well, see the title; and many others.

We believe that any piece of writing that simply says true things about the world inescapably reflects the divine.

America has published poetry throughout our 113-year history. While many of our poems deal directly with spiritual or religious subjects, not all do. We seek to publish strong, meaningful, lively poetry on any subject. We believe that any piece of writing that simply says true things about the world inescapably reflects the divine.

We have been fortunate to publish many budding poets over the years, along with established writers such as Philip Levine, Mary Oliver, Jessica Powers, Thomas Merton, Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, Kwame Dawes, Christian Wiman, Paul Mariani, Julia Alvarez, Marie Howe and Dana Gioia, among others. In 2018 we were fortunate to be able to host a reading by the renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo, author of Beastgirl and Other Myths and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Y.A. novel The Poet X. Her visit to America also included an interview on the podcast “Jesuitical.”

If you would like a chance to join the list of new and veteran writers we have published throughout our history, please send in a poem! For the Foley contest, poets have until March 31 to submit poems of 45 lines or fewer, on any topic. The poems should be previously unpublished and not under consideration elsewhere. The winning poet receives a $1,000 prize and publication in the June 2023 issue of America. Three runners-up will be published in subsequent issues.

We not only accept poems for the Foley contest but also are open to submissions of new poetry at any time of the year.

And if you are not a writer of poetry but a devoted reader, we hope you enjoy the poems we select. May they crack open for you an artistic window on both our world and the God who gives it life and grace.

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