Deadline: December 31, 2017

Judge: Deirdre Callanan

Bass River Press seeks cover art for its third annual poetry publication. The winning artwork will be featured on the front cover of Deirdre Callanan’s poetry collection, Water-Dreaming, set to be released in the spring of 2018. Editor Angela Howes and Supervising Editor Lauren Wolk will review all submissions before sending a small group of finalists to Callanan, who will select the winning artwork.

Callanan’s work was chosen by poetry judge Lisa Starr as the winner of Bass River Press’ third  poetry competition. A small sample from her upcoming manuscript has been provided above. Please review the poems for inspiration, and cater your submission to the themes, language, and ideas presented there. Callanan will select the winning artwork based on its suitability to the poetry collection the artwork represents.

Bass River Press invites all artists worldwide to submit artwork. Please read the complete guidelines before submitting your work.

Bass River Press in an imprint of the Cultural Center of Cape Cod.


Bass River Press will accept only original artwork. All media are accepted, including painting, drawing, photography, and photographs of three-dimensional works. Submissions may be pulled from an artist’s existing collection, as long as they reflect Callanan’s poetry; existing work and artwork created in response to the poetry will be judged equally. Multiple submissions are accepted, but must be accompanied by a separate entry fee for each submission.

The winning artist will retain their original work, but the Cultural Center will possess copyright of the artwork for limited use pertaining to the needs and requirements of Bass River Press. This includes, but is not limited to, the use of the selected artwork for publicity purposes, cover design, future editions of the publication, and more. The artist will retain ownership of the image.

Submission Fee
There will be a non-refundable submission fee of $10 for each piece of artwork entered. As an independent, nonprofit literary press on its first run, Bass River Press will use submission fees to cover some – but by no means all – of the cost of reviewing, publishing, and distributing materials.

Entry By Website Upload Only
Entry is done through Cafe, a web-based service that allows artists to upload images and organize thier artwork for submissions to gallleries. To apply for a call, you must leave our website and go to the Cafe website at where you can create a FREE artist account. You will add your details and upload your images to Cafe and then you can submit work to Bass River Press Cover Art Competition 2017.

Specifications and Formatting
Art submissions may be either vertical or horizontal in orientation. All images must be in JPEG format using Cafe guidelines. The images must be no smaller than 1920 pixels on the longest side at 72 dpi. Maximum file size is 5mb. Successful submissions must later be provided in a large, 300 dpi TIFF file.

Bass River Press reserves the right to request a new photograph of any artwork that does not meet the hi-resolution and dpi requirements. If you are submitting an image of an artwork that is no longer available for photographing, you must be able to submit a digital image at least 8’’ long on the longest side, and 300 dpi.

December 31, 2017.

The winning artwork will be featured on the cover of the 2018 poetry collection to be published and distributed by Bass River Press. In addition, the artist will also receive a cash prize of $200 USD, along with two complimentary copies of the publication upon release in 2018.

Please contact Editor Angela Howes at with any questions. Supervising Editor Lauren Wolk can be reached at, or by phone at 508-394-7100.


Bass River Press Poetry Competition


In 2015, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod launched its first imprint, Bass River Press, to support local poets. Funded initially by the South Yarmouth Library Association and the Mid-Cape Cultural Council, the press published its first collection of poetry in April 2016: On the Loose by Cotuit poet Judith Askew, selected by judge Tony Hoagland. In April 2017, with support from the South Yarmouth Library Association, Bass River Press published a second collection, Wild Water Child by Hyannis poet Rose Auslander, selected by judge Elizabeth Bradfield.



In its third annual poetry competition, the Cultural Center of Cape Cod’s Bass River Press has selected West Harwich poet Deirdre Callanan for publication. Judge Lisa Starr, former poet laureate of Rhode Island, chose Callanan’s manuscript from a handful of worthy submissions by Cape & Islands poets. Callanan’s poetry collection, currently titled Water~Dreaming, will be released in the spring of 2018.

Deirdre Grace Callanan, a poet, journalist, educator, and photographer, moved to Cape Cod with her daughter Samantha in 1981. She treasures her two long-term writing groups here as well as her work for the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis as a faculty member of their writing program. But Callanan’s writing career began long before that. The author recalls crafting her first two poems at the young age of eight, and can still recite them today.

“I’ve been writing more or less full tilt since then,” Callanan says.

Callanan’s poetry has been printed in magazines and journals all over the country, including Beloit Poetry Journal, Poet Lore, Transference: the New Directions Journal of the Washington Center for Psychoanalysis, Yellow Silk: Journal of Erotic Arts, and the Cape Cod Poetry Review. But her newest manuscript, Water~Dreaming, took her in a whole new direction.

Water~Dreaming is set in central Massachusetts’s Swift River Valley in the 1930’s & 40’s. During that time, four towns were obliterated and the Quabbin Reservoir was built to provide water for Boston. The book’s central character, Cora Snow, loses her life in the process, which sets off an eerie sequence of communications between Cora and the other spirits of Enfield, who witness their hometown being buried beneath fifteen fathoms of water.

Water~Dreaming differs from everything else I’ve written,” says Callanan, who spent ten years researching the area in preparation for her manuscript. “This book is both about Cora and what happens when a small community is destroyed for the benefit of a larger one.”

Former poet laureate of Rhode Island, Lisa Starr was enthusiastic in her recommendation of Callanan’s manuscript for publication. She said:

“There is much at work in Callanan’s haunting and lyrical collection that finds its basis in the largely forgotten history of the destruction of the Swift River Valley (1937-1938) to enable the creation of the Quabbin Reservoir. The poems tell the stories of the towns-people of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott, who were forced to leave their homes, towns, valleys and fields, which were subsequently razed. The poems are rich, dense, and wrenching—at once grounded in history but also dancing in the space between the visible and the invisible worlds. Poetry brings us all kinds of gifts—it can warm our hearts, stir our spirits, tilt our heads, remind us of rhythm, or tell us a story we needed to hear. Water-Dreaming does all of these things, and so much more. It is an ambitious book, and a remarkable accomplishment.”

Water~Dreaming will go into production this winter, with an expected release of April 2018. The cover of the collection will feature a work of art inspired by Callanan’s poetry and selected by the poet herself.

Below is a small sample of poems from Callanan’s manuscript. Scroll down for guidelines for submitting cover art for consideration, but all submissions must go through CAFE (

From the Poet:

Water~Dreaming is set in central Massachusetts’s Swift River Valley in the 1930s & ’40s. During that time, to provide water for Boston, four towns were obliterated, the Quabbin Reservoir built. Cora Snow, the book’s central persona, is revealed in four sections. In I, she burns to death and is buried in Quabbin Park Cemetery where she struggles to accept her spirit state. Section II highlights aspects of her last two years of life. During III, she listens to other spirits’ stories & explores the new phase of her being. In IV, she returns to Enfield, her town of origin which now rests, devoid of its families, structures, and vegetation, beneath fifteen fathoms of water. This book is both about Cora and what happens when a small community is destroyed for the benefit of a larger one.




Our last Christmas on the farm,
we do what we’ve done
since they’ve been gone

Gramps centers the tree in the window,
Will strings garlands on the porch,
I fetch Mama’s quilt which I drape

beneath the branches where it remains
while the soaked fruitcake’s unwrapped,
holiday events scroll by

January 6th, it’s washed &
carried to their bed
in that desolate room…

My first quilt just begun,
I spread Mama’s on my lap,
rest a palm on my square,

across my name, birth day, &
a snowdrop bent above a drift

In a corner block: Calvin & Cora,
two hearts on a bell,
June 1, 1923

I fold my square to theirs–
for this moment,
then & now joined

Mama wore a brooch,
a bee preserved in resin.
I’m sealed in amber.



((((   Halo   ))))


With the storm passed
the stag comes back
to drink at the bank

I keep close
while his tongue like ink
dips in and out

From the moon
a band of light
ringed in grace



Pale Scar

They’ve been building
a brick tower

to overlook
this wilderness,

and now it’s done.

I sky-scale it,
conjure our  towns,
mere hill tips now
whose leaves shudder.

The water
creeps upward
in this somber

Frank Winsor
termed a solution

but we knew
our oblivion.

I angle lower,
closer to Enfield–

its sinuous road
a pale scar

whose curves
I trace
on air.





She Learns


to twist                                                            

     among soiltunnels/                                    




to rise                                                                         

    past earthrind/                                            

join figures                                                                 

      who                     stall                                                     

   (gossamer friezes)                                                        







to swivel


t/h/r/o/u/g/h    pines/


to navigate

            a charged terrain/

these rows

            her village     where




from certain graves

(their markers plinths)/


        that only some







I float                                                  


dragonflies      stir       this      brew


tanagers    flit  onto     ash


burn  into  pine




pickerel    sugar   silt               a turtle    swivels                     away




through                                  chimney   smoke




            hog pen                                   barn                                         porch                         


glide                                        into    the    kitchen


lift        the cup




yellow   beauty-mark                      of    water-lily


raspberry’s     dusky   tang


join          chocolate-voiced   frogs                                      repeat to one another


our litany

of loss


we   drift                through                                          leafcloudflame


sing                                          with all our hearts                              for what remains