The Nonce-Sense Poetry Award



The Nonce-sense Poetry Award.  Poets are inventive souls and continue to bring new forms forward.  This competition challenges entrants to submit a poem in such an invented, or “nonce,” form. Rhymed forms are especially encouraged. Maybe you write a mean “slant sonnet” or make other riffs on received forms.  The point here is to not only write a wonderful poem but to do so using an original form of some kind.

This competition is open only to GPS members and will include a first prize of $100, a second prize of $50, and a third prize of $25.  Up to three HM certificates may be awarded.  Form:  Nonce.  Length and theme:  Open.


We are really pleased to welcome noted poet Jeff Hardin to judge this competition.  If anyone would know a nonce form, he would.  Jeff has won several competitions featuring works in form, including the Donald Justice Poetry Prize (2015 for Restoring the Narrative) and the X.J. Kennedy Prize (2017, for No Other Kind of World), among other honors.  He is professor of English at Columbia State Community College in Columbia, TN.  Find his website and impressive bio here.



  1. All poems must be in English. We do not accept translations.
  2. Poems submitted must be the original work of the contestant, unpublished in any form, including electronically, and not under consideration or accepted for publication.
  3. Poems may not be withdrawn or revised after submission.
  4. All poems submitted will be considered for inclusion in our annual anthology, The Reach of Song.  Poets grant GPS First North American serial rights.  Subsequent rights revert to the author after publication.
  5. All poems must be titled.
  6. Judges are selected by GPS but cannot be GPS members.
  7. No ties are awarded. Decisions of the judges are final.
  8. To enter contests as a GPS Member, membership dues must be current at the time of entry.
  9. Submissions are limited to three poems per contest. The same poems may not be entered in more than one GPS contest.
  10. Poems must be composed single-spaced using a conventional, standard typeface, such as Times, in 12-point font.  Double space stanza breaks.
  11. Do not include illustrations.
  12. Do not center poems on the page.
  13. Use upper and lower case boldface for titles instead of all caps or underlines. Do not increase font size of titles from body text.  Do not center titles on the page.
  14. The Georgia Poetry Society assumes no responsibility for loss due to email or other online mishaps beyond its control.
  15. Poems are destroyed after the contests conclude and are not returned. Do not send your only copy.
  16. GPS strongly supports equal rights and treatment of all persons without regard to race, nationality, culture, gender, age, disability status or sexual orientation. Accordingly, poems are disqualified if they are found to contain indecencies, obscenities, defamations, or hateful language.
  17. The Georgia Poetry Society reserves the right to cancel any contest for which there is an insufficient number of entries.
  18. Contestants may not win more than once per contest.
  19. No poem or poem sequence may exceed 210 lines or 2500 words.
  20. Editors of The Reach of Song reserve the right to consult with authors of prize-winning poems selected for publication if there are questions about spelling, grammar or             punctuation, and to request emendations of such, unless they are integral to the construction or meaning of the poem.


  1. All entries must be emailed to:
  2. In the body of your email, list the titles of your poems and full contact information. Do not put your name or any other identifying information anywhere on your submitted poems.
  3. Attach the poems as individual files to the email. Attach them in .doc or .docx form.  Do  not use .pdf or other file formats.  If we are unable to open your attachment, the entry is disqualified.
  4. In the “subject” line of your email, identify to which contest the poems are to be directed.  Use this format, please:  Contest abbreviation, your last name, first name. The abbreviations are as follows:  BHR for Byron Herbert Reece award; IEH for Ira E. Harrison Award; NON for the Nonce-Sense Award; PETS for the Reigning Cats and Dogs Award.

As an example:  NON, Shields, Steven.

  1. Use separate emails for each contest. Do not submit poems to multiple contests in the same email and ask us to sort them out for you.
  2. Poems are accepted from October 1 at 12:01 AM to November 15, 2020 at 11:59 PM. Entries received outside this timeframe are not accepted.  Winners will be announced at the January 2021 GPS quarterly meeting.
  3. If a poem is longer than a single page, indicate continuation by placing the poem’s title and the words “new stanza” or “continued” in the upper right corner of the following      page(s).
  4. Do not send biographical information in the body of your email or as attachment.


  1. The entry fee for GPS members is $5 for up to three poems.  The contest is open only to GPS members.
  2. All fees are paid via PayPal to the Georgia Poetry Society. We do not accept cash, checks, or money orders as payment.
  3. Payment must accompany submission.
  4. Life members of the Georgia Poetry Society pay no entry fees to enter GPS contests.