G&A: The Contest Blog

PEN/Jean Stein Grants for Literary Oral History Accepting Submissions

Submissions are open for the 2022 PEN/Jean Stein Grants for Literary Oral History, which lend support to writers at work on “literary works of nonfiction that use oral history to illuminate an event, individual, place, or movement.” While the award was previously presented to a single recipient, this will be the second cycle in which PEN America offers two grants of $15,000 each.

Using online the online submission system, submit three statements, a curriculum vitae, a project outline, a writing sample of 20 to 40 pages from the project, and 6 to 10 pages of unedited interview transcripts relevant to the sample by June 1. There is no entry fee. Only unpublished works-in-progress are eligible. No submission may be slated for publication earlier than April 1, 2022. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

The PEN/Jean Stein Grants are named in honor of the author and editor Jean Stein, who died in 2017. Stein was well known for her literary oral histories, including books on Robert Kennedy and Edie Sedgwick. Last year’s grant recipients were Helen Benedict, whose work-in-progress chronicles the lives of refugees of Greece, and Brett Ashley Robinson, whose project reckons with the history of the 1985 MOVE bombing in Philadelphia.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

Whether you are polishing a short piece or developing a full-length manuscript, there are several exciting writing contests accepting submissions into early May. These contests include financial support and a residency opportunity for a nonfiction writer working on a manuscript about the desert. All offer a cash prize of $1,000 or more and close on May 1, May 3, or May 5.

Atlanta Review International Poetry Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Atlanta Review is given annually for a single poem. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: May 1. Entry fee: $15.

Australian Book Review Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize: A prize of AUD $6,000 (approximately $4,681) is given annually for a story. A second-place prize of AUD $4,000 (approximately $3,121) and a third-place prize of AUD $2,500 (approximately $1,951) are also given. The winners will all be published in Australian Book Review. Gregory Day, Melinda Harvey, and Elizabeth Tan will judge. Deadline: May 3. Entry fee: AUD $25 (approximately $20).

Bristol Short Story Prize: A prize of £1,000 (approximately $1,390) and publication in Volume 14 of the Bristol Short Story Prize Anthology is given annually for a short story. Irene Baldoni, Tom Robinson, and Mahsuda Snaith will judge. Deadline: May 5. Entry fee: £9 (approximately $13).

Georgia Review Loraine Williams Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,500 and publication in Georgia Review is given annually for a single poem. Arthur Sze will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: May 1. Entry fee: $15 entry fee (no fee for current subscribers).

High Desert Museum Waterston Desert Writing Prize: A prize of $2,500 and a two-week residency at the PLAYA artists and scientists’ retreat in Summer Lake, Oregon, is given annually for a nonfiction work-in-progress that “recognizes the vital role deserts play worldwide in the ecosystem and the human narrative, with the desert as both subject and setting.” The winner will also be provided with travel and lodging to attend a reception and awards ceremony at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, in September. Deadline: May 1. Entry fee: none.

Leapfrog Press Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Leapfrog Press is given annually for a short story collection, novel, or novella. Ann Hood will judge. Deadline: May 3. Entry fee: $35.

University of Nebraska Press Backwaters Prize: A prize of $2,000, publication by University of Nebraska Press, and 20 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. An honorable mention prize of $1,000 and publication by University of Nebraska Press will also be given. Huascar Medina will judge. Deadline: May 1. Entry fee: $30.

Wick Poetry Center Stan and Tom Wick Poetry Prize: A prize of $2,500 and publication by Kent State University Press is given annually for a debut poetry collection. The winner is also invited to teach a weeklong writing workshop at Kent State University and give a reading with the judge. Tracy K. Smith will judge. Deadline: May 1. Entry fee: $30.

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines, and check out the Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

BOMB Fiction Contest Open for Submissions

Submissions are open for the biennial BOMB Fiction Contest. The winning writer will receive a prize of $1,000 and publication in BOMB. Novelist Ottessa Moshfegh, the author of My Year of Rest and Relaxation and Death in Her Hands, will judge.

Using only the online submission system, submit a short story of up to 5,000 words and a cover letter with an entry fee of $25 by May 3. For writers in the United States, the entry fee includes a one-year subscription to BOMB. The winner will be revealed on July 31. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Founded in 1981, BOMB is a multimedia publishing house that spotlights artists and artwork in various disciplines, including literature, film, and visual art. In addition to publishing a print quarterly—which features interviews, portfolios, as well as essays, fiction, and poetry—BOMB maintains a regular online publication. BOMB also hosts one literary contest each year, alternating between poetry and fiction. The winner of the most recent fiction contest was Alexandra Gauss for her story “Sanssouci.”

Deadline Approaches for the Backwaters Prize in Poetry

The Backwaters Prize in Poetry is accepting submissions. Established in 1998, the prize is awarded for a book-length poetry manuscript. The winning writer will receive $2,000, publication by the Backwaters Press, and 20 author copies. An honorable mention prize of $1,000 and publication by the Backwaters Press will also be given.

Using only the online submission system, submit a manuscript of 60 to 85 pages with a $30 entry fee by May 1. Huascar Medina will judge. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Founded in 1997, the Backwaters Press was acquired by the University of Nebraska Press (UNP) in 2018. Operating as a distinct imprint within UNP, Backwaters seeks to “plant its roots firmly in the Great Plains, delighting readers with literature of enduring value and consequence.” The winner of the 2020 prize was Nathaniel Perry for Long Rules: An Essay in Verse, which is forthcoming in November.

Cave Canem Poetry Prize Accepting Submissions

The deadline is approaching for the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Founded in 1999 to help discover “exceptional manuscripts by Black poets of African descent,” the prize celebrates a debut book of poetry by a Black writer. The winning writer will receive $1,000, a critique session with the prize judge, publication by Graywolf Press, fifteen author copies, and a reading event.

Using only the online submission system, submit a cover letter and a manuscript of 48 to 75 pages by April 30. Only writers who have not published a full-length book of poetry are eligible. Writers who have published chapbooks or who self-published books with limited print runs are eligible. Rachel Eliza Griffiths will judge. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

The Cave Canem Foundation was established in 1996 with the ambition to “remedy the under-representation and isolation of African American poets in the literary landscape.” Cave Canem’s many programs include an annual writing retreat and numerous community-based workshops. The winner of the 2020 Cave Canem Poetry Prize was Aurielle Marie, whose book, Gumbo Ya Ya, is forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press in fall 2021.

 

Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize Open for Submissions

Submissions are open for the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize. Honoring “well-crafted, boundary-pushing fiction,” the prize is designed to give winners “the most visibility possible for their writing.” Eleven stories will be shortlisted. One winner will receive €1,500 (approximately $1,777), a weeklong residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation’s castle in the Umbria region of Italy, and a consultation with literary agent Charlotte Seymour of Andrew Nurnberg Associates. Two runners-up will receive €750 (approximately $889) and a consultation. All shortlisted stories will be published in a collection to be distributed to agents in the U.S. and U.K., in addition to being published in one of nine partner journals. Additionally, all finalists will be invited to participate in salons—public health conditions permitting—in Madrid, London, and Edinburgh. One shortlisted writer will also receive a ten-day residency at the Writers’ House of Georgia, which includes a €400 (approximately $474) travel stipend and an invitation to read at the Tbilisi International Festival of Literature. If the festival is canceled due to the pandemic, the writer will still be able to complete the residency.

Using only the online submission system, submit a short story of up to 2,000 words with a €20 (approximately $24) entry fee by April 15. Up to four additional entries are permitted for €10 (approximately $12) per entry. Writers from underrepresented communities or who face financial hardship can apply for a sponsored or reduced fee entry until April 1. Ottessa Moshfegh, Derek Owusu, and Isabel Waidner will judge. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Desperate Literature is a bookstore and community space in Madrid, Spain. It was jointly conceived by booksellers Terry Craven, Charlotte Delattre, Corey Eastwood, and Craig Walzer. The store “strives to be a space where good literature serves as a vehicle for dynamic cultural, linguistic and social exchange between Madrilenos, extranjeros and travelers from around the world.”

Photo: The Civitella Ranieri Foundation’s castle in Italy

Deadline Approaches for Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing

The Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing is accepting submissions. Established in 2016 to recognize and celebrate the talent of immigrant writers, the prize is awarded in alternating years for a debut book of fiction or nonfiction by a first-generation writer. The winning writer will receive $10,000 and publication by Restless Books. The 2021 award will be given in nonfiction.

Using only the online submission system, submit a complete manuscript or a sample of at least 25,000 words and a proposal by March 31. Writers who have not previously published a book of nonfiction in English are eligible. Writers Francisco Cantú and Shuchi Saraswat and Restless Books publisher Ian Stavans will judge. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

“At a time in which politicians and the media reduce immigrants to mere ciphers,” Stavans told Poets & Writers Magazine in a 2020 article about the prize, “the objective was clear-cut: to do what literature does best . . . by allowing emerging immigrant writers from anywhere and everywhere to tell their own stories.”

 

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

After a dreary winter, spring is finally on the horizon. With deadlines of March 14 or March 15, these contests include opportunities for poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers alike. One awards a monthlong residency in Slovenia. All offer a cash prize of $500 or more.

Airlie Press Airlie Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Airlie Press is given annually for a poetry collection. The editors will judge. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: $25.

Bellingham Review Literary Awards: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Bellingham Review are given annually for works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction. The 49th Parallel Award for Poetry is given for a poem or group of poems. The Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction is given for a short story. The Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction is given for an essay. All entries are considered for publication. Jessica Jacobs will judge in poetry, Kristiana Kahakauwila will judge in fiction, and Sarah Einstein will judge in creative nonfiction. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: $20 ($10 for each additional entry).

Colorado Review Nelligan Prize for Short Fiction: A prize of $2,000 and publication in Colorado Review is given annually for a short story. T. Geronimo Johnson will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: March 14. Entry fee: $15 ($17 for online submissions).

Fourth Genre Steinberg Essay Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Fourth Genre is given annually for an essay. Xu Xi will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: $20.

Hidden River Arts Eludia Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Hidden River Publishing is given annually for a debut novel or story collection by a woman age 40 or older. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: $20.

James Jones Literary Society First Novel Fellowship: A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a novel-in-progress by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. Two runners-up will each receive $1,000. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: $33.

Livingston Press Tartt Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000, publication by Livingston Press, and 100 author copies is given annually for a first collection of short stories by a U.S. citizen. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: none.

National Poetry Series Open Competition: Five prizes of $10,000 each and publication by participating trade, university, or small press publishers are given annually for poetry collections. The 2021 publishers are Beacon Press, Ecco, Milkweed Editions, Penguin Books, and University of Georgia Press. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: $35.

Prairie Schooner Raz-Shumaker Book Prizes: Two prizes of $3,000 each and publication by University of Nebraska Press are given annually for a poetry collection and a short story collection. Kwame Dawes will judge. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: $25.

Robinson Jeffers Tor House Foundation Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for a single poem. Kim Stafford will judge. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: $10.

The Word Works Washington Prize: A prize of $1,500 and publication by the Word Works is given annually to a U.S. or Canadian poet for a poetry collection. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: $25.

Verse Tomaž Šalamun Prize: A prize of $500 and publication by Factory Hollow Press is given annually for a poetry chapbook. The winner will also receive a monthlong residency in summer 2022 in a private apartment at the Tomaž Šalamun Center for Poetry in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Prose poetry, hybrid works, and translations of works of poetry by living writers from any language into English are also eligible. Sawako Nakayasu will judge. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: $16 ($12 for students).

Washington College Hodson Trust–John Carter Brown Library Fellowship: A fellowship, which includes a stipend of $20,000, is given annually to a novelist or nonfiction writer working on a book relating to the literature, history, culture, or art of the Americas before 1830. The fellowship includes housing and university privileges for a two-month research period to be conducted at the John Carter Brown Library on the campus of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and a two-month writing term at the Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. Deadline: March 15. Entry fee: none.

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines, and check out the Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowship Open for Applications

The deadline is approaching for the PEN America Emerging Voices Fellowship. While previously designated for Los Angeles writers, the fellowship is now open to poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers from across the United States. Twelves fellows will receive $1,000 and participate in a five-month mentorship program, which includes one-on-one mentorship, introductions to various industry leaders, professional development workshops, and more. Designed for “early-career writers from communities that are traditionally underrepresented in the publishing world,” the program is open to writers who have not yet published a book and who do not hold an advanced degree in creative writing.

Using only the online submission system, submit a series of personal statements, a writing sample, a curriculum vitae, and the contact information for two references with a $25 entry fee by March 17. A committee of established writers, former fellows, and PEN America staff will judge. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

The Emerging Voices Fellowship was first established by PEN America Los Angeles in 1996, with the aim to serve “writers seeking financial and creative support to pursue their craft professionally.” Last year the program was disrupted as the pandemic swept the country, and in August 2020, PEN America indicated it would not open the 2021 fellowship application. The following month, however, the organization announced it would be able to redirect funding to the program and reenvision it on a national scale.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

It’s hard to believe, but the end of February is almost here! With deadlines of either February 28 or March 1, these awards include opportunities earmarked for writers in Alabama and Mississippi, as well as two prizes for Black writers who self-published books last year. All feature a cash prize of $500 or more.

Alabama State Council on the Arts Literary Arts Fellowships: Fellowships of $5,000 each are given annually to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers who have lived in the state of Alabama for at least two years. Deadline: March 1. Entry fee: none.

Association of Writers & Writing Programs Award Series: Two prizes of $5,500 each and publication by a participating press are given annually for a poetry collection and a short story collection. In addition, two prizes of $2,500 each and publication by a participating press are given annually for a novel and a book of creative nonfiction. Ilya Kaminsky will judge in poetry, Rebecca Makkai will judge in short fiction, Sabina Murray will judge in the novel, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil will judge in nonfiction. Deadline: February 28. Entry fee: $30 ($20 for AWP members).

Biographers International Organization Hazel Rowley Prize: A prize of $2,000 will be given annually for a work-in-progress by a writer who has not published a biography. The winner will also receive review of their manuscript by an agent, publicity through the Biographers International Organization (BIO) website, and a one-year membership in BIO. Writers who have not previously published, or who are not under contract to write, a book of biography, history, or other work of narrative nonfiction are eligible. Deadline: March 1. Entry fee: $25.

Black Caucus of the American Library Association Self-Publishing Literary Awards: Two prizes of $500 each are given annually for a poetry e-book and a fiction e-book by an African American writer self-published in the United States during the previous year. The awards honor books that depict the “cultural, historical, and sociopolitical aspects of the Black Diaspora.” Deadline: February 28. Entry fee: none.

Fish Publishing Flash Fiction Prize: A prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,170) and publication in the Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a short short story. The winner is also invited to give a reading at the West Cork Literary Festival in July 2021. Kathy Fish will judge. Deadline: February 28. Entry fee: €14 (approximately $16) for online entries or €16 (approximately $18) for postal entries.

Hunger Mountain Literary Prizes: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication on the Hunger Mountain website are given annually for a poem, a short story, and an essay. Tomás Q. Morín will judge in poetry, Trinie Dalton will judge in fiction, and Terese Marie Mailhot will judge in nonfiction. Deadline: March 1. Entry fee: $20.

Little Tokyo Historical Society Short Story Contest: A prize of $500 and publication in the Rafu Shimpo and on the Discover Nikkei and Little Tokyo Historical Society websites is given annually for a short story that takes place in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles. Deadline: February 28. Entry fee: none.

Mississippi Arts Commission Literary Artist Fellowships: Grants of up to $5,000 each are given in alternating years to Mississippi poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers. This year the fellowships will be offered in categories including creative nonfiction. Applicants must be permanent residents of Mississippi. Deadline: March 1. Entry fee: none.

Omnidawn Publishing First/Second Poetry Book Contest: A prize of $3,000, publication by Omnidawn Publishing, and 100 author copies is given annually for a first or second poetry collection. Kazim Ali will judge. Deadline: February 28. Entry fee: $27 ($30 to receive a book from the Omnidawn catalogue).

Tupelo Press Snowbound Chapbook Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Tupelo Press is given annually for a poetry chapbook. Denise Duhamel will judge. Deadline: February 28. Entry fee: $25.

University of Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing Fellowships: An academic year in residence, which includes a stipend of at least $39,000, at the University of Wisconsin in Madison is given annually to at least five writers working on a first or second book of poetry or fiction. Writers with an MFA or PhD in creative writing who have not published more than one book are eligible. Deadline: March 1. Entry fee: $50.

Visit the contest websites for complete guidelines, and check out the Grants & Awards database and Submission Calendar for more contests in poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.

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