Mark Fischer Poetry Prize

The Mark Fischer Poetry Prize is named in the memory of Telluride’s much-loved poet, lawyer, skier and raconteur. Mark Fischer was a daring experimenter who combined a polyglot’s command of languages with a quirky sense of humor and a passion for obtuse words. In that spirit, prizes are awarded to entries that best exhibit the qualities of originality, novelty, complex meaning, linguistic skill and wit. The wilder the better. All styles and content matter are accepted and will be represented at the reading.

The prize is open to poets residing in Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. The judging is blind, meaning the judge has no personal information attached to the poems. The judge will make decisions based on the overall quality of the work and the above values.

The Mark Fischer Poetry Prize Reading and Awards Night Will be in May 2014. Check back.

Telluride Arts hosts the Mark Fischer Poetry Prize Celebration annually. Winning Poets, our Judge and other Poets read their poems.

THE 2013 JUDGE - Colorado Poet Kyle Harvey

Kyle Harvey

Kyle Harvey

Kyle Harvey is a poet, artist and musician. An acclaimed songwriter from Omaha, Nebraska, Harvey spent some time in the back seat of a van, touring the country with a band called It’s True. Currently the editor of Fruita Pulp, Harvey's first collection of poems Hyacinth was published by Lithic Press in 2013 and his poems have recently appeared in SHAMPOO, Grand Valley Magazine, Fat City Review, Colorado Journeys, Ossuary Whispers and SP CE. Harvey currently resides in Fruita, Colorado where he owns an art gallery and lives with his beautiful wife, two kids, three cats, a dog and nine chickens (whom he lovingly named after some of his favorite poets and Bill Murray).


Due WEDNESDAY, APRIL 30, 2014.

Telluride Arts in Telluride, Colorado invites submissions to the sixteenth annual Mark Fischer Poetry Prize.  

Awards of $200 first prize, $150 second prize, and $100 third prize, and $50 honorable mention will be presented at a celebratory reading in Telluride in May.

Submission Guidelines


Submission to the contest grants one-time use rights of publication to Telluride Arts on our website, in local papers and in any future anthology of work. Copyright is retained by the author. 

We need the following three items from you:


  • Please fill out and submit the form on this page.


  • You may submit as many poems as you choose.
  • Please submit each poem on its own page.
  • Please do not include your name on your poem pages.
  • Email your poems as attachments to In the subject area, write Mark Fischer Poetry Prize Submission.


  • Include $5 for each poem you want considered.

Email submission is preferred. If you would like to submit by mail, please send a cover letter that includes required information (in the form right) to Telluride Arts PO Box 152, Telluride CO 81435.

Name *
Submit a two to three sentence bio describing you, your work, your inspiration. Feel free to be as creative as you wish. The judge will not see your bio or your name.
List each poem you will be submitting here. Email your poem(s) to us at In the subject line, write: Mark Fischer Poetry Prize Submission. Submit each poem on its own page (or pages), as attachments to the email, and do not include your name anywhere on the poem page(s)
Tally your total submission fees here. ($5 per poem)
Payment method *
Mark Fischer Poem Submission
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THE 2013 JUDGE - New Mexico Poet Wayne Lee

Wayne Lee is a Santa Fe poet who played violin for 22 years in a Seattle string quartet and worked as a music critic for the Washington (D.C.) Times, The Seattle Times, Jazziz and other publications.

He has taught at the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, Western Washington University (where he received his M.A. in theatre/dance), the Cornish School for the Arts, and the Institute of American Indian Arts. Lee is the winner of the 2012 Mark Fischer Poetry Prize and the 2012 SICA Poems for Peace Award, a Pushcart Prize nominee and author of two poetry collections.


First Place: “Hyacinth” by Kyle Harvey

This is the kind of poem Mark Fischer would have loved! It shows great originality, brilliant command of language, complex and erudite meaning, imaginative and sustained use of metaphor, and tremendous musicality. It takes the Greek myth of Hyacinth and transforms it into an elegy that is at once a dirge and a praise poem for the regenerative power of spring. I love how skillfully the poet has used theme and variations, repetition (reminiscent of Poe’s “The Bells”), internal and slant rhymes, and unexpected rhythm shifts. This is the mature, polished work of a highly skilled and imaginative writer.


Second Place: “The darkness, before the light” by Samantha Wright

This is a poem Walt Whitman would have loved. Like Whitman’s work, this poem celebrates not what separates us, but what binds us together. In this case, it is a solar eclipse, as viewed from various vantage points around the world by millions of witnesses. I admire how the writer describes the event with such novelty in lines like “a small dark beauty mark/ sliding across the skin of the Sun.” I also love how he (or she) uses “we” to speak for all of humanity, how each of us shared this “brief interlude of wonderment.” And then, in the end, the “we” is expanded even farther to include “the heavens” themselves.


Third Place: “The Institution of Dichotomy” by Tony Saab

This whimsical writer begins his (or her) rap with “They told me hip-hop wasn’t poetry,” and then proceeds to prove “them” wrong. Hip-hop is poetry, and this rapper is a poet. The complexity of language is so effortlessly woven into the liquid fabric of this poem that it’s easy to overlook the skill with which the writer makes a philosophically sophisticated statement on the writing process, and on the nature of thought itself. It may have been intended as a slap in the face of traditional poetry, but ultimately it makes a convincing argument for hip-hop’s inclusion within that lineage.


Honorable Mention: “Elizabeth Greer” by Deb Barr

I had to give this poem an award because it moved me to tears. It tells the story of a “no ruffles” pioneer woman who hid her six children to save them from the Indians. It goes beyond that simple story, though, to show the heart and determination of this courageous and unassuming character. This writer has crafted a heartfelt homage to a historical figure, and has brought her to life so vividly that she nearly rises from the page, “her hands firmly on the child.