Long Poem Prize 36-line Rule

The 36-Line Rule has been devised in order to help entrants prepare entries composed of single long poems or cycles of poems that, if chosen as one of two winners in The Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize, will fit the contest’s guidelines minimum (10 pages) and maximum (20 pages) length requirements.

The minimum and maximum length requirements refer to published pages in The Malahat Review, not manuscript pages. A printed page of poetry in The Malahat Review is 36 lines long.

A ten-page entry, when printed, is, at its maximum length, is 360 lines long.

A twenty-page entry when printed, is, at its maximum length, 720 lines long.

A stanza break, a part number, or a part title must be counted as a line. If an asterisk, or some other similar symbol, is used to indicate the end of a part, it must be counted as a line.

The Malahat Review can accommodate most lines horizontally without having to break them. However, if a line is so long that must be broken, it must therefore be counted as two lines.

In a cycle of poems, each poem must begin on a new page. In a multipart poem, it is up to the author whether or not each section begins on a new page.

The main guideline stipulates “36 lines or less” per page because in a cycle of individual poems, where each poem starts on starts on a new page, or in a multi-part poem, where each part starts on a new page, there may be pages throughout where not all 36 lines are used. Some individual poems and some parts are more than one page long, with last pages that may not file all 36 lines. Any lines that are not used on the final page of any individual poem or part must be deducted from the maximum entry length of 720 lines.

Page breaks in individual poems or in parts, should fall at appropriate points to facilitate readability. For example, if a poem or part is 38 lines long, it may best be broken after line 32, with the remaining six lines appearing on the next page. Please remember that in a cycle of individual poems, each poem must start on a new page.

Entries should be set up on portrait pages only and observe the above requirements.

To guarantee accuracy, determine how many lines per page your manuscript is, including stanza breaks, etc. For example, if each page in your manuscript is 46 lines long, your entry must be at minimum 7.82 manuscript pages long (360 lines divided by 46 lines) and at maximum 15.65 manuscript pages long (720 lines divided by 46 lines).

If you have questions about this guideline, please send queries to malahat@uvic.ca.
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