Language Report


Every year Oxford Languages picks a word of the year, which in the past has included “climate emergency” in 2019, “toxic” in 2018, and “youthquake” in 2017. However, this year in lieu of choosing one word, a sixteen-page language report was released with sections on COVID-19, remote work, social movements, and the environment, highlighting words of the year which include “social distancing,” “pods,” “Blursday,” “allyship,” and “bushfire.” Write an essay that reflects on the personal experiences of this complex year using some of these featured words. In what ways have you witnessed the evolution of language in your attempt to describe new experiences?



In a 2018 Boston Review interview, Avni Sejpal asks Arundhati Roy about the narrative differences between her two novels, The God of Small Things and The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, elaborating on how the former is “written in a style often described as lyrical realism,” while the latter is “more urgent, fragmented, and bleak.” Arundhati’s response pushes back on the word “bleak” as she explains that “most of the characters, after all, are ordinary folks who refuse to surrender to the bleakness that is all around them, who insist on all kinds of fragile love and humor and vulgarity, which all thrive stubbornly in the most unexpected places.” Write about a time when you chose to push against despair and bleakness. How did love, humor, and hope persist despite dire circumstances?

Calibre Essay Prize

Australian Book Review
Entry Fee: 
January 15, 2021

A prize of $5,000 AUD (approximately $3,648) is given annually for an essay. A second-place prize of $2,500 AUD (approximately $1,825) will also be given. The winners will be published in Australian Book Review. Using only the online submission system, submit an essay between 2,000 and 5,000 words with an entry fee of $25 AUD (approximately $18) by January 15. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Upcoming Contest Deadlines

Dreaming of a post-pandemic future? Consider submitting to one of the following contests, which include opportunities to travel—public health conditions permitting—to Ireland and Texas. All close on November 30 and offer a cash prize of $1,000 or more.

Beloit Poetry Journal Chad Walsh Chapbook Series: A prize of $2,500, publication by Beloit Poetry Journal, and 50 author copies is given annually for a poetry chapbook. The editors will judge. Entry fee: $20.

BOA Editions A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by BOA Editions is given annually for a first book of poetry by a U.S. resident. Aimee Nezhukumatathil will judge. Entry fee: $25.

Fish Publishing Fish Short Story Prize: A prize of €3,000 (approximately $3,939) and publication in the annual Fish Publishing anthology is given annually for a short story. The winner will also be invited to attend a five-day short story workshop and read at the West Cork Literary Festival in West Cork, Ireland, in July 2021. Emily Ruskovich will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Entry fee: €20 (approximately $26) for online submissions or €22 (approximately $29) for submissions by mail.

LitMag Anton Chekov Award for Flash Fiction: A prize of $1,250 and publication in LitMag will be given annually for a piece of flash fiction. The winner will also have their work reviewed by agents from the Bent Agency, Brandt & Hochman, Folio Literary Management, InkWell Management, Sobel Weber Associates, and Triangle House Literary. The editors will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Entry fee: $16.

Munster Literature Center Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize: A prize of €2,000 (approximately $2,378), publication in Southword, and a weeklong residency at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Ireland, is given annually for a single poem. Peter Sirr will judge. Entry fee: €7 (approximately $8) for one poem or €30 (approximately $35) for five poems.

Narrative Fall Story Contest: A prize of $2,500 and publication in Narrative is given annually for a short story, a short short story, an essay, or an excerpt from a longer work of prose. A second-place prize of $1,000 and publication in Narrative is also awarded. The editors will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Entry fee: $27.

Quarter After Eight Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Contest: A prize of $1,008.15 and publication in Quarter After Eight is given annually for a prose poem, a short short story, or a micro-essay. Dinty W. Moore will judge. All entries are considered for publication. Entry fee: $15.

University of North Texas Rilke Prize: A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a poetry collection published in the previous year by a mid-career poet. Public health conditions permitting, the winner will also receive airfare and lodging to give a reading at the University of North Texas in April 2021. U.S. poets who have previously published at least two poetry collections are eligible. The poetry faculty of the University of North Texas will judge. Entry fee: none.

White Pine Press Poetry Prize: A prize of $1,000 and publication by White Pine Press is given annually for a poetry collection by a U.S. citizen. Entry fee: $20.

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.



“A farmer lived, but not well. If she planted grain, it would not sprout. If she grew rice, it would rot. If she tried to raise livestock, they would gasp and choke and die before they’d seen a second dawn,” begins The Rain Heron by Robbie Arnott, a GalleyCrush pick forthcoming from FSG Originals in February. These straightforward conditional sentences help to quickly synthesize information and set the tone for conflict in the story. This week write an essay that begins with a conditional phrase expressing a conflict in your life. Start the first sentence with an “if this, then that” scenario to produce tension and set the stage for what will unfold. 

Beginner’s Mind


“Craft is not simply technical. If we take our craft seriously, or even if we want to play, we must realize that what we bring to craft is the world that crafted us,” writes Joy Priest in an installment of Craft Capsules published in July. “The way we work, our technique, holds all of our subconscious anxieties and desires.” What was the world like that shaped you, and how does it manifest in your writing? Write an essay describing how your childhood shaped the way you think and the choices you make as a writer. Consider the questions that Priest poses throughout her essay, such as, “What are you avoiding? What are you leaving out? What is uninterrogated?”

Julie Andrews and Stephen Colbert Exchange Limericks


In this clip from The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, Julie Andrews speaks about her latest book, Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years (Hachette Books, 2019), which is cowritten by her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, and exchanges personalized limericks with the host.


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