Back to Blog

Press 53 and the World as It Is

If you’ve been to a North Carolina Writers’ Network event in the past seven years (at least), you’ve seen Press 53 represented in our exhibit hall, on our panels, and in our Critique Service and Manuscript Marts.

They publish a lot of renowned North Carolina writers. Our own Executive Director, Ed Southern, for one. Also, North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame inductees Doris Betts, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Guy Owen, Shelby Stephenson, and John Ehle, whose Land Breakers series is being re-released as part of a Carolina Classics series.

Also, former NC poet laureates Joseph Bathanti and Cathy Smith Bowers. Also, award-winning fiction writer Taylor Brown. And, frankly, too many NCWN members to list here.

What the Zhang Boys Know (2012), a novel in stories by Clifford Garstang, won the Library of Virginia Literary Award for Fiction, and in 2015, earned Garstang the Indiana Emerging Author Award. The story collection One Last Good Time by Michael Kardos won the 2012 Mississippi Institute of Arts & Letters Award for Fiction.

Founded in 2005, Press 53 currently publishes short fiction collections and poetry. They also publish Prime Number Magazine, a quarterly online publication of distinctive poetry and short fiction.

Tough and visceral, Press 53’s titles, by and large, offer steady and unflinching stare-downs with the world as it is.

While Press 53 does not accept unsolicited submissions, there are a number of ways to catch their editors’ attention.

The Press 53 Award for Short Fiction (open September 1 – December 31) and the Press 53 Award for Poetry (open April 1 – July 31) offer $1,000 and publication to each winner. Many winners of the Prime Number Magazine awards have also eventually had their collections published by Press 53, who also prefers to publish authors who get involved in their literary community and who appear widely in literary journals.

So, that’s a hint: come on out to the North Carolina Writers’ Network 2018 Spring Conference on Saturday, April 21, at UNCG —where Press 53 publisher Kevin Morgan Watson will be on-hand as an exhibitor and as a panelist for Slush Pile Live!—and say hello. Or sign up for A Gathering of Poets, March 23-25, in Winston-Salem for workshops, readings, and more.

To learn more about Press 53, visit their website at, or follow them on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.