In This Brilliant Darkness: A Book of Strangers (Norton, 2020), journalist and photographer Jeff Sharlet captures two years of his life, between his father’s heart attack and his own, through snapshots and short chapters that read like a travel journal. Sharlet documents Skid Row in Los Angeles, gay nightclubs in Russia, a New Jersey Dunkin’ Donuts, and other places, urging readers to step into the shoes of the strangers he meets while seamlessly weaving journalism, photography, and evocative storytelling to elicit an overwhelming sense of empathy. “I am a reporter, and this is a book of other people’s lives, lives that became, for a moment—the duration of a snapshot—my life, too,” writes Sharlet. Inspired by Sharlet’s immersive journalistic style, write an essay reflecting on an interaction with a stranger and how you made an unexpected connection. Immerse readers into an atmosphere that might be unfamiliar to them.
Find details about every creative writing competition—including poetry contests, short story competitions, essay contests, awards for novels, grants for translators, and more—that we’ve published in the Grants & Awards section of Poets & Writers Magazine during the past year. We carefully review the practices and policies of each contest before including it in the Writing Contests database, the most trusted resource for legitimate writing contests available anywhere.