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Blair is a small, independent press interested in publishing voices from beyond the mainstream. We publish prose and poetry by underrepresented writers such as women, people of color, authors with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ authors.

We are also interested in nonfiction works, particularly those by underrepresented writers, authors working on subject of cultural, natural, and historical interest in the American South and beyond. Prospective writers should study our existing title list to see how their subjects might fit within the interest and mission of the press.

We do not publish plays, translations, or genre fiction such as detective novels, crime novels, fantasy, or science fiction. We do not publish religious tracts, self-help books, or academic theses. We do not publish books that have already been self-published or published in their entirety. We no longer publish unsolicited children’s books. We do not, at this time, have need of illustrators or employees (though we do love volunteers!).

We accept one student intern per semester.
To apply, send a cover letter and resume by email.

Literary agents and authors with nonfiction book proposals should send submissions to blairsubmissions[at]

We welcome unsolicited fiction and memoir submissions via our three contests below.



The BAKWIN AWARD FOR WRITING BY A Female-identifying writer

Submissions for the Bakwin Award for Writing by a Female-Identifying Writer are NOW CLOSED. 

The next submission period for this contest will open in spring 2020. The Bakwin Award honors full-length prose work (novel, short story collection, or memoir) by an author who identifies as female. The winner will receive a $1,000 honorarium, and the winning book will be published by Blair. 

Please visit our Submittable page for more information on how to submit to this contest.

Lee Smith Novel Prize

Submissions for the next Lee Smith Novel Prize are NOW CLOSED.

We will be reading these entries, with finalists announced fall 2018. The next submission period will open in fall 2019.


Submissions for the Wren Poetry Prize (formerly known as the Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series contest) are NOW CLOSED.

The prize will be awarded to a writer’s first or second full-length poetry collection. Blair will publish the winning collection, and the poet will receive $1,000. Renowned poet Ada Limón will judge. The most recent winner is Binary Stars by Dana Koster, which was published in 2017. 

Please visit our Submittable page for more information and to submit to this contest.


Contest Results

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January 14, 2019

We’re thrilled to announce the latest winner of the Lee Smith Novel Prize: The Baddest Girl on the Planet, by Heather Frese!

This novel is a heartbreaking, haunting, even funny portrait of the life of Evie Austin, baddest girl on the planet, native of Hatteras Island, North Carolina. The final effect is one of nostalgia in the face of life’s constant changes—an effect made all the more poignant by the ebb and flow of the Hatteras Island waves. What does it mean to come of age in the Outer Banks, to love a place as deeply as you long for something more? Who are we when we don’t recognize ourselves? Each chapter is another one of Evie’s vividly rendered memories, and they appear one after another without regard for chronology, in the way real memories do. This protagonist is not for the faint of heart; Evie Austin, her hair stiff with salt, looks her reader squarely in the face.

Heather Frese’s fiction, essays, and poetry have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, the Los Angeles Review, Front Porch, the Barely South Review, Switchback, and elsewhere, earning notable mention in the Pushcart Prize Anthology and Best American Essays. She received her master’s degree from Ohio University and her M.F.A. from West Virginia University.

The purpose of the Lee Smith Novel Prize is to recognize and publish authors living in, writing about, or originally from the U.S. South. Coastal North Carolina is Heather Frese’s longtime love and source of inspiration, her writing deeply influenced by the wild magic and history of the Outer Banks. She currently writes, edits, and wrangles three small children in Raleigh, North Carolina.



August 2, 2017

We’re thrilled to announce the latest winner of our Bakwin Award for Writing by a Woman: May-lee Chai, for her story collection Useful Phrases for Immigrants!

May-lee is the author of eight previous books and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, among other honors. Her stories, essays, and journalism have appeared in publications such as The Rumpus, Gulf Coast, Entropy, and elsewhere. May-lee was born in California but has lived in fourteen states in the U.S. and four countries. She received her M.F.A. from San Francisco State University.

Useful Phrases for Immigrants was selected from 234 entries. The finalists included Jubilee by Jenn Givhan and Kissing the Indigo Sky by Angela Threatt. The winner was judged by author Tayari Jones. Jones was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where she spent most of her childhood, with the exception of the one year she and her family spent in Nigeria. Although she has not lived in her hometown for more than a decade, much of her writing centers on the urban South. “Although I now live in the northeast,” she explains, “my imagination lives in Atlanta.” Her novels include Leaving Atlanta, The Untelling, and Silver Sparrow, all of which have received several awards and accolades, including the Hurston/Wright Award for Debut Fiction and the Lillian C. Smith Award for New Voices. Her newest novel, An American Marriage, will be published in 2018.

Congratulations to May-lee and all of our Bakwin Award finalists! Carolina Wren Press will publish May-lee’s collection Useful Phrases for Immigrants in fall 2018.


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January 13, 2017

We’re thrilled to announce the latest winner of the Lee Smith Novel Prize: Beaut, by Donald Morrill.

Beaut is the unforgettable first-person account of a woman whose difficult children (and in particular her meth-addicted son known as “the Monster”) have ruled and overruled her life. As her children work variously to protect her, win her favor, and borrow her money, she sits in an apartment near a ring road of Des Moines typing the poetic and wry account of her life. She is processing two last-minute surprises: the prospect of new love and a house fire that may be the work of her troubled son. She writes, “I’m in need of a great reckoning.” With this reckoning, for herself and for another who is initially unnamed, she confronts her wobbly circumstances, her charge as a mother and grandmother, and her own desires for the future. In the telling, she revisits an early love affair, weighs a mother’s warring love and ambivalence, and illuminates the mysteries of inheritance, until finally, her family must radically revise their image of who she is—their mother, the ultimate assumption in their lives.

The purpose of the Lee Smith Novel Prize is to recognize and publish authors living in, writing about, or originally from the U.S. South. Donald Morrill, who currently teaches at the University of Tampa, is an esteemed poet and nonfiction writer, and we could not be more excited to publish his first novel!