The Midwest Writing Center announces the results of the 2020 Foster-Stahl Chapbook Series | Submissions for 2021 open September 1 — scroll down the page for submission information

Announcing the Results of the 2020 Foster-Stahl Chapbook Series

Thank you to all the terrific poets and writers who shared their manuscripts with us for the first year of the Foster-Stahl Chapbook Series. We are grateful for everyone who gave us the opportunity to read and consider their work. The range, variety, and excellence of the submissions made them thrilling to read, and provided the series editors with an extremely difficult task in selecting a manuscript.

In the end, two manuscripts were selected for publication: one manuscript for the Series, and a second manuscript selected for publication as an Editor’s Choice. Below are the complete results, include finalists and semi-finalists:

Foster-Stahl Chapbook Series Selection:

Field Notes Recovered from the Expedition to Devil’s Peak by Laura A. Ring

MWC Press Editor’s Choice Selection
(will be published by MWC Press):

Choir by Aubrey Jane Ryan


Wish I Was Here by Hannah Blaser

City of Honesty by Freesia McKee


It is Good. It is Written. by Aubrey Barnes

Let It Burn by Audra Kerr Brown

We are planning to release both of the selected chapbooks in November 2021. Submission are open for the Foster-Stahl Chapbook Series through December 31, 2021.

Thanks to everyone who submitted their work to the Series again. We’re grateful for the opportunity to have read your work, and we wish you all the best in placing your manuscripts elsewhere.

Thanks again, all the best, and take care…

MWC Press / Series Editors

Bio for Laura Ring

Laura Ring, University of Chicago librarian

Laura Ring is a poet, short story writer, anthropologist, and librarian. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in RHINOStirringRogue AgentDream Pop, and Okay Donkey, among other places. Laura holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, where she serves as the Librarian in charge of the Southern Asia and Anthropology collections. Her ethnography Zenana: Everyday Peace in a Karachi Apartment Building was published by Indiana University Press.

Bio for Aubrey Jane Ryan

Aubrey Ryan is the author of Good Beast, winner of the Phantom Books Breitling Chapbook Prize. Her work has appeared in Best New PoetsPinwheelAnti-, MatterHobartBoothNew MadridEl AlephQuarterly WestDIAGRAM, The Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, and elsewhere. Her poems have been featured on broadsides by Joseph Lappie and Team Nerd Letterpress. Aubrey is the winner of the Booth Poetry Prize and has been three times nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two sons, a cat, and a garden.

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MWC Press, the press imprint of The Midwest Writing Center, is thrilled to announce a new publication series: The Foster-Stahl Chapbook Series, which looks to publish outstanding short collections of poetry, prose (fiction or nonfiction), or hybrid work from poets and writers living in the upper Midwest region (this includes the following states served by Arts Midwest: IL, IN, IA, MI, MN, ND, OH, SD, WI). Submissions for the second year of the series are open now.


Mary Foster, with her late husband George

The contest is named in memory of two important figures in MWC’s history, whose lasting contributions to the Center have made this series possible: Mary Foster (1937-2019), a long-time educator and member of the MWC Board of Directors, as well as a founding member of MWC’s Legacy Society, and Richard “Dick” Stahl (1939-2020), a teacher and poet who published three collections (including Bluffing and Mr. Farnam’s Guests), and served at the inaugural Quad Cities Poet Laureate 2001-2003.

Richard “Dick” Stahl

All submitted manuscripts will be reviewed and selected by a group of writers/editors affiliated with MWC. Authors of selected manuscripts will receive a publishing contract with MWC Press, a $300 publication fee, 20 copies of the finished chapbook, and an invitation to a reading in the Quad Cities (either in a virtual format, or an in-person reading, if possible, with MWC will covering travel expenses). MWC is committed to publishing at least one chapbook in the spring/summer of 2021, but reserves the right to select more than one manuscript for publication. The series aims to publish at least one chapbook every year starting in 2021.    

The submission period will run from September 1-December 31, 2021. Submissions will be accepted via email and snail mail. Full submission details can be found below.


  • Please submit only one copy of your manuscript.
  • Manuscript page length: between 20-30 pages of poetry, prose, or hybrid works (front matter not included in count).
  • Poems must be typed.
  • Do not include photocopies of poems from magazines or journals. Manuscripts should include no more than one poem per page.
  • No illustrations may be included.
  • Multiple submissions are accepted.
  • Manuscripts with more than one author will not be accepted.
  • Translations will not be accepted.

A complete submission should include:

  • A title page with contest name (The Foster-Stahl Chapbook Series), your name, address, telephone, email, and any other relevant contact information. Your name should not appear elsewhere in the manuscript.
  • An acknowledgments page. Poems included in your manuscript may be previously published, but please include an acknowledgments page listing specific publications.
  • A complete Table of Contents.
  • Your manuscript.


  • Proof of purchase of one of the following MWC Press chapbooks for $10 (includes shipping), while supplies last for each title:

Field Notes Recovered from the Expedition to Devil’s Peak by Laura A. Ring (2021 Foster-Stahl Chapbook Series Selection – out November 2021)
Choir by Aubrey Jane Ryan (2021 Foster-Stahl Chapbook Series Editor’s Choice Selection – out November 2021)
The Dark Villages of Childhood by Stephen Frech
Broken Plums on the Sidewalk by Meghan Brinson
The Polychrome Clinic by Caroline Crew
Meditations in a Helicopter About to Explode Over a Guy Covered in Chum, Surfing of Shark bay Beach by Jason Bredle
Outsiders by Cherise Pollard
Get Home Safe by Elliott Sky Case

  • If submitting via USPS, please make checks payable to the Midwest Writing Center

Get your MWC Press Chapbook via PayPal here – Opens Sept. 1, 2021

Title of MWC Press Chapbook – includes shipping

CLMP Information

MWC is a member of Council of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) and adheres to its Code of Ethics:

CLMP’s community of independent literary publishers believes that ethical contests serve our shared goal: to connect writers and readers by publishing exceptional writing. We believe that intent to act ethically, clarity of guidelines, and transparency of process form the foundation of an ethical contest. To that end, we agree to 1) conduct our contests as ethically as possible and to address any unethical behavior on the part of our readers, judges, or editors; 2) to provide clear and specific contest guidelines—defining conflict of interest for all parties involved; and 3) to make the mechanics of our selection process available to the public. This Code recognizes that different contest models produce different results, but that each model can be run ethically.

We take our integrity very seriously and will conduct this contest as ethically as possible. If any conflict of interest should arise, we will address it as ethically, fairly, and transparently as we can. We have adopted this Code to reinforce our integrity and dedication as a publishing community and to ensure that our contests contribute to a vibrant literary heritage


The current MWC Board of Directors, Staff, Committee Members, and Volunteers are excluded, as are members of their immediate families. If any of the selected authors fall under these categories, they will be disqualified, and a replacement will be chosen from among the other finalists.


The Foster-Stahl Chapbook Series
Midwest Writing Center
c/o RIPL
401 19th St.
Rock Island, IL 61201

Email submissions can be sent to: midwestwritingcenter (at) gmail (dot) com. Please include the phrase “Chapbook Series” in the subject line.

Please contact Ryan Collins with questions:
(309) 732-7330


  • Manuscripts will not be returned.
  • If your manuscript is accepted for publication elsewhere, you must notify us ASAP.
  • A self-addressed stamped postcard for confirmation of receipt.
  • Authors of selected manuscripts will be contacted directly, and the announcement of the selection(s) will be announced on our website and on social media

The Foster-Stahl Chapbook Series is supported by the MWC Legacy Society, the estate of Mary Foster, memorial contributions made to MWC in the name of Richard “Dick” Stahl, and the Illinois Arts Council Agency.