Archive January 2018

BuzzFeed Announces 2018 Emerging Writer Fellows

BuzzFeed has announced the recipients of its 2018 BuzzFeed Emerging Writer Fellowships. They are Min Li Chan, Sandi Rankaduwa, and Adriana Widdoes.

The three nonfiction writers will each receive a stipend of $14,000 and career mentorship from BuzzFeed News’s senior editorial staff. Beginning in March, the fellows will spend four months at BuzzFeed’s offices in New York City and will focus on writing cultural reportage, personal essays, and criticism for BuzzFeed Reader.

Min Li Chan is an essayist and technologist based in San Francisco and Detroit. She is deeply invested in the essay’s possibilities for expansive inquiry and productive provocation. Her recent essay for the Point interrogates the moral contradictions of being a tech worker amidst Silicon Valley’s profound socioeconomic inequality.

Sandi Rankaduwa is a Sri Lankan–Canadian writer based in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has appeared in the Believer, Rolling Stone, and elsewhere. Most recently, she wrote a piece for BuzzFeed Reader on the symbolic implications of Meghan Markle’s upcoming marriage.

Adriana Widdoes of Los Angeles is a writer and coeditor of Which Witch L.A., an indie publishing project that produces female-centered projects exploring narrative through research, image, and text-based works. You can read an excerpt of Widdoes’s recent essay “Marshmallow Mayonnaise,” which was published on the Los Angeles Review of Books vertical Voluble.

BuzzFeed’s editorial staff selected this year’s fellows from a pool of more than four hundred applicants. Launched in 2015, the fellowship’s mission is to expand the media landscape and empower emerging writers, particularly those who are “traditionally locked out” of media opportunities. Read an interview with Karolina Waclawiak, BuzzFeed’s executive editor of culture, about the program’s growth over the past few years.

(Photos from left: Min Li Chan, Sandi Rankaduwa, Adriana Widdoes)

Upcoming Poetry Deadlines

Poets, do you have a group of poems or a full-length collection ready to submit? Consider the following six contests, which are open for submissions until January 31. Each contest offers a prize of at least $1,000 and publication.

Red Hen Press Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award: A prize of $3,000, publication by Red Hen Press, and a four-week residency at the PLAYA writers retreat in Summer Lake, Oregon, is given annually for a poetry collection. Richard Blanco will judge. Entry fee: $25

Lascaux Review Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry: A prize of $1,000 will be given annually for a poetry collection published during the previous two years. Entry fee: $25

Autumn House Press Rising Writer Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Autumn House Press will be given annually for a debut poetry collection by a writer age 33 or younger. Richard Siken will judge. Entry fee: $25

Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award: A prize of $1,200, publication by Main Street Rag, and 50 author copies is given annually for a poetry collection. The editors and previous winners will judge. Entry: $25

Writers at Work Writing Competition: A prize of publication in Quarterly West is given annually for a group of poems. The winner can also choose to receive either $1,000 or tuition to attend the Writers at Work Conference in Alta, Utah, in June. Entry fee: $20

Winter Anthology Writing Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Winter Anthology is given annually for a group of poems. Dan Beachy-Quick will judge. Entry fee: $11

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

Short Fiction Prize Open for Submissions

Submissions are currently open for the Desperate Literature Short Fiction Prize. An award of €1,000 (approximately $1,220), a weeklong residency at the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbria, Italy, and a consultation with literary agent Adriann Ranta Zurhellen of Foundry Literary + Media, will be given for a short story.

The winner and two runners-up will also receive publication in 3:AM Magazine, Structo Magazine, and A Women’s Thing, and will be invited to participate in events at the Desperate Literature Bookstore in Madrid, Shakespeare & Company in Paris, and the Rizoma Film Festival in Madrid in June. The dates of the events will be announced at a later date. Travel and lodging expenses are not included.

Using the online submission system, submit an unpublished story of up to 2,000 words with a €20 entry fee (€10 for each additional entry) by February 14. 3:AM editors Hestia Peppe and Eley Williams and Structo editor Euan Monaghan will judge.

Established by the Desperate Literature Bookstore in Madrid, the prize aims to celebrate “not just the best of brief fiction, but the continued growth of an Anglophone literary community in Madrid.” Visit the website for the required entry form and complete guidelines.

West Seattle’s WordsWest Literary Series

WordsWest Literary Series is curated by poets Katy E. Ellis and Susan Rich, and novelist Harold Taw. All three live in Seattle, where they came together over their parched need for a reading series in their community of West Seattle. Ellis is the author of three chapbooks: Night Watch (winner of the Floating Bridge Press 2017 Chapbook Competition), Urban Animal Expeditions (Dancing Girl Press, 2013), and Gravity (Yellow Flag Press, 2015). Below, she writes about the inventive format of the WordsWest Literary Series and how it played out at an event last fall with P&W–supported writers Robert Flor and Roberto Ascalon.

WordsWest Literary Series—now in its fourth year of programming—was honored to celebrate Filipino American History Month by welcoming two outstanding local writers of Filipino descent, Robert (Bob) Flor and Roberto Ascalon, to the stage. As cocurator Harold Taw mentioned in his introduction, both writers are “Uncle Bobs” in a culture that gives great respect to the words and lessons of previous generations, and that acknowledges the importance of family and really good food!

One of the unique things about WordsWest is its trademark “braided” reading format, where writers take turns reading in short intervals. Both audience and readers get to experience a sense of spontaneous collaboration on stage. (It’s a “living anthology” of words unfolding in a never-to-be-duplicated fashion right before your eyes!) So, Flor and Ascalon traded off reading their poetry in five-minute segments, weaving their poems together with fascinating connections of common history that branched into current themes of what it means to be “home and away” in this country.

Roberto Ascalon was a stunning reader. The audience was on pins and needles as he took us into a Filipino fish market full of magical sensory images and strong characters. His love poem moved us with its unique form that didn’t quite rhyme, but felt like a song in its turning back and repetitions, and gorgeous images of seeds and growing. Bob Flor read from his chapbook Alaskero Memories (Carayan Press, 2016) about life in Alaskan canneries in the 1950s and 1960s. It is invaluable to have someone like Flor share his past experiences not only as a Filipino American with current ties to the Philippines, but as an older gentleman with an eye for details that only a poet can put down on paper. In one touching moment on stage, when the writers first traded turns at the mic, Ascalon acknowledged Flor’s age and life experience, and noted how honored he was to be reading with a Filipino elder. It was a lovely, intimate exchange between writers, between their poems. 

Another unique part of a WordsWest Literary event is the West Seattle Favorite Poem Project, wherein we invite a member of the West Seattle community to share a favorite poem and tell us why it’s a favorite (think Robert Pinsky, U.S. poet laureate 1997–2000). On October 18, we heard a favorite poem from Alexis Acciana of Reading Partners, an awesome organization that connects volunteers with kids who struggle with reading. Acciana gave us a lively, lovely reading of Billy Collins’s poem “On Turning Ten.” The favorite poem portion of WordsWest has been a great way for people who don’t usually connect with poetry to get involved in the literary arts (and to promote their local business or to raise awareness of their cause).

Our WordsWest “braided reading” format, our dedication to inviting writers of diverse experience and cultural background, the cozy, one-of-a-kind coffeehouse atmosphere at C&P Coffee Company, community participation, and an audience now reliant on monthly literary nourishment has made WordsWest an ongoing success!

Support for Readings & Workshops in Seattle is provided by an endowment established with generous contributions from the Poets & Writers Board of Directors and others. Additional support comes from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photos: (top) Roberto Ascalon and Robert Flor (Credit: Donna Miscolta). (bottom) Two “Uncle Bobs” reading (Credit: Donna Miscolta).

Upcoming Contest Deadlines for Prose Writers

Prose writers! If you have a story, essay, novel, or memoir ready to submit, below are ten writing contests to consider. Each contest offers a prize of at least $1,000 and has a deadline of Wednesday, January 31.

Balcones Center for Creative Writing Fiction Prize: A prize of $1,500 is given annually for a book of fiction published during the previous year. Entry fee: $30

Black Lawrence Press Big Moose Prize: A prize of $1,000, publication by Black Lawrence Press, and 10 author copies is given annually for a novel. Entry fee: $25

Chattahoochee Review Lamar York Prizes: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication in Chattahoochee Review are given annually for a short story and an essay. Entry fee: $18

Crazyhorse Literary Prizes: Two prizes of $2,000 each and publication in Crazyhorse are given annually for a short story and an essay. Entry fee: $20

Fish Publishing Short Memoir Prize: A prize of €1,000 (approximately $1,180) and publication in the Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a short memoir. Entry fee: $19

Iowa Review Awards: Two prizes of $1,500 each and publication in Iowa Review are given annually for a story and an essay. Entry fee: $20

New Millennium Writings New Millennium Awards: Three prizes of $1,000 each and publication in New Millennium Writings are given twice yearly for a short story, a work of flash fiction, and a work of creative nonfiction. Entry fee: $20

Ohioana Library Association Walter Rumsey Marvin Grant: A prize of $1,000 is given annually to an Ohio fiction writer or creative nonfiction writer age 30 or under who has not published a book. Writers born in Ohio or who have lived in Ohio for a minimum of five years are eligible. No entry fee.

Winter Anthology Writing Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Winter Anthology is given annually for a group of poems, a story, or an essay. Entry fee: $11

Writers at Work Writing Competition: Two prizes of publication in Quarterly West are given annually for a short story or novel excerpt and an essay or memoir excerpt. The winners also choose to receive either $1,000 or tuition to attend the Writers at Work Conference in Alta, Utah, in June. Writers who have not published a book in the genre in which they are applying are eligible. Entry fee: $20

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

Teen Writers Find Their Creative Voices

Christine Adler is the president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA) and former editor of Inkwell. Her articles, essays, poems, and book reviews have appeared in various print and online publications throughout the Northeastern United States and Canada. She has an MFA in Writing from Manhattanville College, and is represented by Ann Leslie Tuttle of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC. Adler leads the Teen Creative Writers Workshop at Somers Library in Somers, New York, and is currently at work on her second novel.

The Teen Creative Writers Workshop at Somers Library was created for teens who love to write, those middle and high schoolers who’d tell you writing is their thing. We cover all genres—essays, fiction, fan fiction, poetry, you name it. We wanted to create a safe setting for writers where they can share their work and receive constructive feedback, while learning how to give helpful critiques to each other. We also discuss various genres and how to strengthen important elements in each one.

When a new writer attends the workshop for the first time, we talk briefly about how to give and receive feedback. This way, everyone knows we’re using the same guidelines and have the same goal in mind: to help each other improve. I give the group a prompt and have them write for a few minutes. Each student is then invited to share and read what they’ve just written, or read something they’ve brought with them. I also read what I write from the prompts and solicit feedback from the group.

Every writer knows it can be hard to separate your work from yourself, especially when opening up to criticism. If someone is still shy about reading, I ask them to trade work with another writer in the group and read each other’s work aloud. This gives the students an opportunity to experience reading to a group, and also helps illustrate that the critiques are focused on the writing, and not on the writer.

By far, my most rewarding experience as a teacher has been witnessing the enthusiasm expressed by the students. When we get into a discussion about books, or writing, or characters’ motivations they become so animated. It’s exciting to have them ask if we can meet weekly instead of biweekly, or if we can continue the workshop over the summer. Their interest shows me that they truly value the time spent, and enjoy learning the craft. I know they won’t all go on to become writers, but there was nothing like this for me in high school. If there had been, I might have had the confidence to start my writing career earlier in life. I love that I can be a resource to help these students start sooner if they wish.

Leading a group of young writers has greatly influenced my own art too. One thing I emphasize to the members is that we’re never done learning, in writing or in life. We can always improve. I’m strong at dialogue, but weaker at character development and world-building. Many of the teens write fantasy, and as a result are world-building wizards. I’ve learned a lot about world-building from them, and I often leave the workshop, go home, and dive into my work-in-progress. We share tips and tools with each other, encourage one another to keep writing, and together, we see our work getting better. For a writer, there’s nothing more inspiring.

Support for the Readings & Workshops Program in New York is provided, in part, by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, with additional support from the Friends of Poets & Writers.

Photos: (top) Christine Adler (Credit: Alex Lindquist). (bottom) Teen Creative Writers Workshop participants (Credit: Tara Ferretti).

Breaking Down Our Barriers: A Q&A With Jim Daniels, Founder of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards

Since 1999 the annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards program has provided an outlet for young people to express their complex experiences with race and diversity through writing. Based at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, the awards are open annually to high school and college students in the Pittsburgh area or any remote CMU location. Jim Daniels, founder and director of the awards, is of the belief that “the process of writing itself can help young people explore and break down issues of differences in their lives.” In advance of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—and the nineteenth annual MLK Day Writing Awards ceremony—on January 15, Poets & Writers spoke with Daniels about the establishment of the program, the importance of providing a platform for young people to discuss issues of diversity, and the impact that the awards have had on young writers’ lives and careers.

How did the MLK Day Writing Awards begin? What goals did you hope to achieve by establishing this program?

In graduate school back in 1980, I took a course from James Baldwin, in which he challenged us to examine our own experience with race more honestly. As a white kid who grew up on the edge of Detroit, I wasn’t up to the challenge, but never forgot it. In 1995 I edited the anthology Letters to America: Contemporary American Poetry on Race (Wayne State University Press). Both that anthology and the MLK Day Writing Awards are attempts to respond to Baldwin’s challenge. With Letters to America, I wanted to bring a diverse group of poets together to talk about what so often divides us in this country. When Carnegie Mellon University sought to establish campus-wide events for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, I decided to try and do something similar with high school and college students, and the University gave me, and continues to give me, its support. We ask for personal narratives on race—not “Martin Luther King was a great man” or “Racism is bad” essays. Not angry screeds either. One of the key beliefs of the awards is that through telling each other our complex, nuanced stories, and listening to each other’s stories, we can break down some of the barriers between us, break some of the silence. For young people finding their way into the world, this can be particularly difficult and challenging, so we hope to provide a safe space for their voices to be heard.

What is offered as part of the prize? How many winners are selected each year?

The awards are $200, $100, and $50, for first, second, and third place. We also give a number of honorable mentions and select the best entry from each school to be recognized at our awards ceremony. In addition to the cash prizes, students are invited to read their work at the on-campus ceremony on MLK Day, and the entries are published in a chapbook that’s available at the ceremony. We try and extend the reach of the awards beyond the day itself, and winners are often invited to participate in additional readings and discussions in and out of the Pittsburgh community throughout the year. We also visit schools to do workshops to promote writing on race and difference. The list of schools from which students submit continues to grow. Currently we don’t have the resources to expand it to a national competition, but I encourage anyone who might want to start something similar in their community to contact me. Our website also includes videos and chapbooks of previous award winners.

In addition to publishing the annual chapbook of winners’ work, you recently edited the anthology, Challenges to the Dream:  The Best of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Writing Awards (Carnegie Mellon Press, 2017). What was the impetus to create the anthology and how do you feel it will help accomplish the goals of the program and its future?

I work with a very talented, committed team here at Carnegie Mellon on the awards, and we felt that the fine writing being done over the years should be preserved and made available to a larger audience. We’re hoping the anthology will help accomplish that. These voices deserve to be heard again and again. In addition, these issues are often hard to talk about in the classroom, and we hope the anthology might make that a little easier to do. We also want to reach a national audience with this work and perhaps inspire other communities to get involved. In fact, in conjunction with the publication of the anthology, we produced an online study guide so that teachers anywhere can use the work in the anthology for discussion and writing prompts.

Have you witnessed any unforeseen successes of the awards over the past two decades?

I think that seeing their stories recognized and celebrated has made a difference for some of the winners going forward. When we published the anthology last fall, we hosted a reading to celebrate it at City of Asylum in Pittsburgh, and a dozen contributors to the anthology read to an overflow crowd—one former winner brought her three children—and I felt a great sense of community in the room. Many of the contributors from previous years have made social justice issues part of their adult lives and careers. 

When is the next round of submissions and how can students enter their work? 

We open submissions each Fall, and the deadline is usually right before Thanksgiving. Students can enter their work online via Submittable, where they will find complete submission guidelines.

 

(Photo: 2017 MLK Writing Award–winners and honorees)

Lambda Literary Announces New Lesbian Nonfiction Prize

Lambda Literary has announced the new Córdova Prize for Lesbian Nonfiction, a $2,500 award that will be given annually to a lesbian-identified nonfiction writer whose ongoing work “captures the depth and complexity of lesbian life, culture, and/or history.” Submissions are now open.

Lesbian-identified writers who have published at least one book of nonfiction are eligible. Submit up to 20 pages from a previously published book and up to 10 pages from an ongoing work by February 23. There is no entry fee.

The award is named for author, activist, and publisher Jeanne Córdova, a prominent figure of the West Coast LGBTQ movement in the 1970s. In addition to contributing to numerous anthologies and news columns, Córdova published a memoir, When We Were Outlaws: A Memoir of Love & Revolution, in 2011. She died in 2016 at age sixty-seven.

In addition to the Córdova Prize, submissions are currently open for Lambda’s 2018 Judith A. Markowitz Award for Emerging LGBTQ Writers. Two awards of $1,000 each are given annually to LGBTQ-identified writers who have published at least one but no more than two books of poetry, fiction, or nonfiction. The 2017 winners were H. Melt and Victor Yates. Submit up to 10 pages of poetry or up to 20 pages of prose by February 23.

The Lambda Literary Foundation champions the work of LGBTQ writers through its cash awards, writers in schools program, writers retreat, literary festival, and more. Visit the website for more information and complete submission guidelines.

(Photo: Jeanne Córdova Credit: Los Angeles Times)

The Journey

Brian Evans-Jones immigrated to southern Maine from Hampshire, U.K. in 2014. He received his BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Warwick, U.K., and was poet laureate of Hampshire, U.K. from 2013 to 2014. He received his MFA from the University of New Hampshire in 2016. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Outlook Springs, Stoneboat Literary Journal, and the Cafe Review. Evans-Jones is a juried teaching artist in both Maine and New Hampshire, and teaches poetry and creative writing in schools, colleges, and community venues.

You are a poet—or you think you are: perhaps you have never been sure. After all, you don’t have the four or five books to your name that you thought you’d have by now. A couple of competition wins, an award or two, yes, but no book. It seems so complicated, so difficult, this business of getting published. You live in a small town, in a rural state, far away from the publishing centers of America; the editors and poets who throng there seem so far above you.

But you try. You enter awards, send to magazines. The magazines all say no. In April, you get a missed call, a New York number—probably a scam. There is a voicemail, from “Bonnie.” It’s not a scam. You have won Poets & Writers’ Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award—you are going to New York City.

Six months later, you arrive. The buildings are enormous, the streets teeming. You meet Bonnie Rose Marcus, director of Readings & Workshops (East) and the Writers Exchange, tiny and beaming, and go out for dinner with Joan Dempsey, the fiction winner, who fast becomes a good friend. Your nerves are tingling; you almost dread the thought of meeting your first guests tomorrow, these poets who have made it, who have books and books; these editors of famous magazines. What will you ask them, that won’t sound ridiculous? Will they look down on you, will they expect you to know all the poets and trends that you don’t?

Morning comes. Bonnie guides you; the streets seem less alien. The first meeting is with Patricia Carlin, poet and editor. You meet at a coffee shop, get a quiet table in the corner. You’re so nervous, you can’t remember what you said. It doesn’t matter. She’s gracious, interested, friendly. You talk about assembling collections, the benefits and downsides of small presses and regional presses, places to network. She asks if one of your winning poems is available for her magazine, and gives you her card.

Now you feel better. This is going to be okay—maybe even fun. In the next meetings, with agents and other fiction folk, you relax. From the sidelines, you see that all these people—big, important New York City people—are just people: interested in writers, passionate about literature, interested in you.

At dinner, editors from A Public Space, Four Way Books, and Hanging Loose Press discuss magazine life, small press life, poetry. You see that editors simply want their work to be thoughtfully read, the same as you do. Submissions, you realize, can be not a battle, but a communication—maybe even an offering. Someone will like your work—if you take the time to learn what they like first.

The days zoom by. Breakfast with a writer, coffee with an agent, lunch with another writer, tea with a publisher. You grow comfortable with the routine, with the city, with the important New York folk. You meet the president of Farrar, Straus and Giroux and feel entirely at your ease. You love hearing gossip about the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Kate Angus tells you eight small presses she thinks would appreciate your aesthetic. The tour of the New Yorker offices is unforgettable.

Suddenly, it’s the end. You’re going home, to your small town, your green and quiet state. Nothing has changed there—but when you sit in your placid town library, New York feels close. You start work on your manuscript. You are a poet. You are ready.

The Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award is generously supported by Maureen Egen, a member of the Poets & Writers Board of Directors.

Photos: (top) New York City skyline (Credit: Brian Evans-Jones). (bottom, left to right) R&W fellow Sreshtha Sen, R&W program assistant Ricardo Hernandez, R&W (east) director Bonnie Rose Marcus, 2017 WEX fiction judge Tania James, Joan Dempsey, Brian Evans-Jones, and 2017 WEX poetry judge Cynthia Cruz (Credit: Margarita Corporan).

Upcoming Contest Deadlines in Fiction and Nonfiction

Prose writers: If your 2018 resolutions involve submitting to more contests, you’re in luck! Below is a selection of fiction and nonfiction contests with a deadline of January 15. Each contest offers a prize of at least $1,000 and publication.

Hidden River Arts Sandy Run Novella Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication by Hidden River Arts will be given annually for a novella. The editors will judge. Entry Fee: $24

Literal Latté K. Margaret Grossman Fiction Award: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Literal Latté is given annually for a short story. Entry Fee: $10

Breakwater Review Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Breakwater Review is given annually for a story. Joan Wickersham will judge. Entry Fee: $10

Third Coast Fiction Contest: An award of $1,000 each and publication in Third Coast is given annually for a short story. Danielle Evans will judge. Entry Fee: $18

Masters Review Short Story Award for New Writers: A prize of $3,000 and publication in Masters Review is given twice yearly for a short story by a writer who has not published a novel. Writers who have published story collections are eligible. The winning story will also be sent to a participating literary agency. Entry Fee: $20

Moment Magazine–Karma Foundation Short Fiction Contest: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Moment Magazine is given annually for a story that relates to Judaism or Jewish culture or history. The editors will judge. Entry Fee: $25

Australian Book Review Calibre Essay Prize: A prize of AUD $5,000 (approximately $3,800) and publication in Australian Book Review is given annually for an essay. A second-place prize of AUD $2,500 (approximately $1,900) is also given. Andrea Goldsmith, Phillipa McGuinness, and Peter Rose will judge. Entry Fee: $25

Ellen Meloy Fund Desert Writers Award: A prize of $5,000 is given annually to enable a creative nonfiction writer “whose work reflects the spirit and passions for the desert embodied in Ellen Meloy's writing” to spend creative time in a desert environment. No entry fee.

North Carolina Writers’ Network Rose Post Creative Nonfiction Competition: A prize of $1,000 is given annually for an essay that “is outside the realm of conventional journalism and has relevance to North Carolinians.” The winning essay will also be considered for publication in Ecotone. Benjamin Rachlin will judge. Entry Fee: $12

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

Submissions Open for Graywolf Nonfiction Prize

Submissions are open for the 2018 Graywolf Press Nonfiction Prize, given biennially for a nonfiction manuscript-in-progress by a writer not yet established in the genre. The winner will receive $12,000 and will work with the Graywolf editorial team to complete the project for publication.

Writers who reside in the United States are eligible; no prior publication is required. Submissions to the prize may include memoir, essay, biography, and history. Using the online submission system, submit a one-page cover letter, a two- to ten-page overview of the project, and at least 100 pages of the manuscript by January 31. There is no entry fee.

The editors will judge. “The [prize] emphasizes innovation in form, and we want to see projects that test the boundaries of literary nonfiction,” write the editors. “We are less interested in straightforward memoirs.”

Esmé Weijun Wang won the prize in 2016 for The Collected Schizophrenias, an essay collection that addresses the social, historical, medical, and spiritual aspects of schizophrenia. Angela Palm won in 2014 for her book about growing up in a small river town in rural Indiana, Riverine: A Memoir From Anywhere But Here. Margaret Lazarus Dean won in 2012 for Leaving Orbit: Notes From the Last Days of American Spaceflight, and Leslie Jamison won in 2010 for The Empathy Exams.

Founded in 1974, Graywolf Press is considered one of the leading nonprofit literary publishers in the country. The press is “committed to the discovery and energetic publication of contemporary American and international literature.” Visit the website for more information.