Willow Springs Surrealist Poetry Prize

What We Are Looking For

We are looking for poems in the surrealist tradition and its many iterations. One of the basic tenants of surrealism is a revolt of the imagination against reason, rationalism, and empiricism. The first surrealist movement is marked by the publication of Andre Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto. It is, as Robert Bly describes in discussion of Spanish surrealist poets, the poetry of “wild association” and “leaping.”

Melissa Kwasny writes the following useful definition of surrealism from her book Earth Recitals: Essasy on Image and Vision:

“Surrealism, with its emphasis on images drawn from dreams, the wildness of chance, and unconscious desire, extended our definition of the real by opening the conscious mind to realms of perceptions hitherto unknown or agreed upon . . . Breton states in his Second Manifesto [that surrealism is] “a total recovery of our psychic force.” . . . The images that washed up on the shores of the surrealist poem were recognizably different, strange and incoherent . . . Offshoots of French surrealism include the Latin American surrealism of Pablo Neruda a precursor of magic realism; the post-colonial surrealism of the Caribbean poets like Aime Cesaire; Lorca’s dark Andalusian rendition of the Deep Song; the American Deep image poets, influenced by Neruda, as well by Robert Bly's translations of Transtromer and Rilke . . . and later, poets of the Beat era, collage poets, poets exploring the arrangement of images in non-narrative, disjunctive and, to borrow a word from the surrealists, convulsive ways all influenced by the freedom to go beyond the boundaries of the concrete for images. The image, as fragment, or rather, as discontinuous accumulation of fragments, bound by chance encounters in dreams and waking life, gave us a glimpse into an entirely different way of envisioning our world.”

We seek any contemporary poem born of these traditions in an attempt to identify and keep alive the many changing faces of the movement.


View 2023 Winner and Finalists


$500 for a single poem to be published in the Spring issue of the Willow Springs magazine.


February 1, 2024


September 1, 2024


Melissa Kwasny


  • Fee: $15
  • Submit a packet of up to three poems in one file.
  • Please do not include identifying information in your submission document. We will use your Submittable information to contact you, so please make sure your contact information is accurate and up to date.
  • Multiple submissions are welcome, as are simultaneous submissions. Please notify us immediately if your submission is accepted elsewhere.
  • We accept only previously unpublished work for publication.
  • We may consider any submission for general publication, unless the author states otherwise.
  • Runners up may receive acknowledgment in the print issue, and online publication (if desired).


Students, faculty, staff, and administrators currently affiliated with Eastern Washington University or graduated from our creative writing program within the last four years are ineligible for consideration or publication. Previous winners should wait three years after their winning entry is published before entering again. Willow Springs adheres to the CLMP Contest Code of Ethics.


Send your poem(s) to our Submittable page.