After Hours literary journal, Chicago

After Hours Press

2024 Contest Now Closed

Deadline March 15, 2024






Albert DeGenova


Albert DeGenova

P. Hertel

Circulation Manager

Andrew Byrne

© After Hours Press 2024, Elmwood Park, IL


After Hours has published two-issues per year consistently since June of 2000.  We are wholly independent without any outside source of funding.  We value our independence and want to continue without influence or oversight.  As is common with many literary journals who sponsor prizes and competitions, we will require an entry fee for this competition.  Your $15 entry fee will primarily fund our prizes but will also help to support the cost of publishing, postage and the overall long-term future of After Hours

Current Issue $12.00

Wherever I'm At: An Anthology of Chicago Poetry (published in partnership with the Chicago Literary Hall of Fame), $25.00

Dancing A Dizzy Holiliness, by Larry Janowski, $15.00

when word and image run away, the selected poems of Mary Blinn, $15.00

The Professor's Quarters, essays by students of Norbert Blei and their experience of his class at The Clearing Folk School, $15.00

Subscription, One Year, $20.00

1) $15 entry fee.  Payment made through PayPal must be confirmed before submissions will be considered.  Payment link.  You can use a credit card or your PayPal account.

2) One $200 Winner and three $50 Finalists will be selected in an anonymous review by After Hours editors with the final winning decisions made by our 2024 Judge, Brenda Cárdenas.

3) Submissions will be accepted between now and  March 15, 2024.  Winners will be announced on May 15, 2024, and published in After Hours 2024 Summer Issue (released at the Chicago Printers Row Lit Fest, 2024).

4) All entries must be submitted via email to:  Your last name followed by “Mary Blinn Prize” should be the subject of the email. Cover letter and poems should be combined in one file and emailed as a single attachment(.doc /.docx file types preferred). Your cover letter with contact information,75 word bio, and the names of the poems submitted are required. 

5) Open to writers, worldwide; poems must be written in English (translations accepted if translated by the author).  After Hours’ Summer Issue must be a potential first publication for all works submitted. No previously published works, or works accepted for publication elsewhere. Simultaneous submissions are allowed, but we must be notified immediately if any poems are accepted elsewhere. 

6) No identifying personal or contact information should appear on any pages with poems. 

7) A cover letter with contact information,75 word bio, and the names of the poems submitted are required.

8) Entry fees are non-refundable. Send up to four poems per entry. There is no line-limit. Poems may be any length, any style, or any subject. Multiple entries by a single poet are accepted, however each group of four poems must be treated as a separate entry, each with its own cover sheet and an additional $15 fee.

About our 2024 Judge, Brenda Cárdenas   

Brenda Cárdenas is the author of Trace (Red Hen Press), Boomerang (Bilingual Press) and three chapbooks. She also co-edited Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance and Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in many anthologies and journals, including Poetry; Braving the Body; Latinx Poetics: The Art of Poetry; TAB: Journal of Poetry and Poetics; Kinship: Belonging in a World of Relations; Grabbed: Poets and Writers on Sexual Assault, Empowerment, and Healing; Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Anthology; and many others.

Brenda has enjoyed collaborating on inter-arts projects with musicians, visual artists, and choreographers, most recently with composer Daniel Afonso who wrote a choral score to her “Poema para los Tin-Tun-Teros,” published in 2023 by Hal Leonard. Cárdenas has served as faculty for the CantoMundo writers’ retreat (2021) and as Milwaukee Poet Laureate (2010-2012). She currently teaches Creative Writing and U.S. Latinx Literatures at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. You can find her at

After Hours Press literary publisher Alber DeGenova