Verse Press Verse Prize guidelines state, "Any poet writing in English is eligible, unless that person has studied with or is a close friend of the judge, in which case that person will be ineligible to enter or win the contest."
Verse Press editor, Matthew Zapruder says,
It's not that hard to make sure that judges don't know the contest winners. If contests would just take care of that, a site like [Foetry] probably wouldn't be necessary at all. Verse Press has a pretty elaborate mechanism to make sure this wall between judges and their friends and former students is enforced . . .
Yet, Nutter was at Juniper in 2003 with Verse Press editors Brian Henry and Matthew Zapruder.
According to an email from Brian Henry, he and Nutter were not at Juniper in 2003. Henry also distanced himself from Verse Press; he says he edits Verse: the journal.
Also in attendence that summer: Verse authors James Tate, Peter Richards, and Matthew Rohrer.
James Tate included Nutter in the 1997 Best American Poetry.
Zap tells this sad tale:
A couple of years ago the Verse Prize was judged by Forrest Gander. Verse Press is based in Western Mass, was founded by two UMass MFA grads (me and Brian Henry), and is staffed exclusively by volunteers from the UMass MFA program. When we were screening the prize, one of the entries was from a UMass student; the screeners recognized the work of their fellow student (the contest is anonymous, but obviously people who are in workshops together will know each other's work), and we agonized about whether to pass it on, fearing that if it won we would be subject to exactly the kind of rage and conspiracy ferreting that goes on here.
Anyway, the book was so good that we had to pass it on; it just wouldn't have been fair not to, and there was no reason not to. The work more than merited that, and anyway the writer, Eric Baus, had never met Forrest Gander. Sure enough, Gander picked this ms, and we published it.