Upcoming Contest Deadlines

The first contests of the fall season include opportunities for established and emerging writers alike. With deadlines of September 15, September 17, or September 18, all feature a cash prize of $1,000 or more.

Cave Canem Foundation Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize: A prize valued at approximately $2,500 is given annually for a poetry chapbook by a Black poet. The winner will receive $500, publication by Jai-Alai Books, and a weeklong residency at the Writer’s Room at the Betsy Hotel in Miami, Florida; the winner will also give a reading at the O, Miami Poetry Festival in April 2021. Mahogany L. Browne will judge. Deadline: September 15. Entry fee: none.

Gulf Coast Barthelme Prize for Short Prose: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gulf Coast is given annually for a work of short prose. Jenny Offill will judge. Deadline: September 15. Entry fee: $15 (includes subscription).

Gulf Coast Prize in Translation: A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gulf Coast is given in alternating years for a group of poems or a prose excerpt translated from any language into English. The 2020 prize will be given for poetry. Urayoán Noel will judge. Deadline: September 15. Entry fee: $15 (includes subscription).

John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Writing Fellowships: Fellowships of approximately $50,000 each are awarded annually to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers on the basis of achievement and exceptional promise. Citizens and permanent residents of the United States and Canada with a significant and appropriate record of publication are eligible. Deadline: September 17. Entry fee: none.

Manchester Metropolitan University Poetry and Fiction Prizes: Two prizes of £10,000 (approximately $12,740) each are given annually for a group of poems and a short story.  Deadline: September 18. Entry fee: £18 (approximately $23) 

University of Wisconsin Press Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes: Two prizes of $1,000 each and publication by University of Wisconsin Press are given annually for poetry collections. Carmen Giménez Smith will judge. Deadline: September 15. Entry fee: $28.

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.

I Love, I Love

Henri Cole’s latest memoir, Orphic Paris (New York Review of Books, 2018), mixes the forms of autobiography, diary, essay, and poetry with photographs for a complete and intimate look into his time spent in Paris. Each line in the last essay of the book begins with “j’aime,” as Cole uses anaphora, a form which repeats a word or phrase at the beginning of successive clauses, to write a final moving ode to Paris. Whether it be by your travels or ancestry, what city or place do you feel captivated by? Write a personal essay that uses the repetition of a word or phrase, or the anaphora form to examine your connection to that particular place.

Short Lectures by Mary Ruefle


In this 2013 Woodberry Poetry Room video, Mary Ruefle reads twenty-eight short meditations from her essay collection Madness, Rack, and Honey: Collected Lectures (Wave Books, 2012) with subjects including Shakespeare, Socrates, Van Morrison, the dead, hypocrisy, and loneliness. Ruefle received the 2020 Arthur Rense Poetry Prize from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Barthelme Prize for Short Prose

Gulf Coast
Entry Fee: 
September 15, 2020
A prize of $1,000 and publication in Gulf Coast is given annually for a work of short prose. Submit a prose poem, a piece of flash fiction, or a micro-essay of up to 500 words with an $18 entry fee, which includes a subscription to Gulf Coast, by September 15. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Monadnock Essay Collection Prize

Bauhan Publishing
Entry Fee: 
December 15, 2020

A prize of $1,000, publication by Bauhan Publishing, and 50 author copies is given annually for an essay collection. Steven Harvey will judge. Submit a manuscript of 50,000 to 60,000 words with a $30 entry fee by December 15. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

Expressions and Gestures


Whether it’s a nod that means “yes,” or a pointed finger that says, “over there,” we all likely express some form of nonverbal language in our day-to-day lives. But just how specific can we be with our body language? Think about how you communicate nonverbally to those around you. Are there certain gestures or facial expressions that only certain friends or family members understand? In a personal essay, reflect on when you use these actions and behaviors, where you learned them, and how they differ culturally and within particular social circles.

Unseen Forces


“There’s a spot over Lake Superior where migrating butterflies veer sharply. No one understood why they made such a quick turn at that specific place until a geologist finally made the connection: a mountain rose out of the water at that exact location thousands of years ago,” writes Aimee Nezhukumatathil about a natural phenomenon that caused a reaction in an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir, World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments (Milkweed Editions, 2020), which appears in a Q&A by Ross Gay in the September/October issue of Poets & Writers Magazine. “Maybe that is the loneliest kind of memory: to be forever altered by an invisible kiss, a reminder of something long gone and crumbled.” What belief, family story, or past event do you feel inexplicably tethered to? Write an essay that draws the connection between your physical reality and the unseen forces behind it.

Submissions Open for Gotham Writers Manuscript-to-Market Fellowships

The deadline is approaching for the inaugural Gotham Manuscript-to-Market Fellowships, presented by the Gotham Writers Workshop. Designed to support “people of color who have completed a book manuscript (or nonfiction book proposal) and are ready to go to market with their book,” the fellowships will be awarded to three writers each year. The winning writers will receive admittance to the Gotham Writers Conference, a seat at a pitching roundtable with two agents, a Gotham course on publishing, a one-on-one agent evaluation session, and a query letter coaching session. Each year at least one fellowship will be awarded to a Black applicant.  

Using only the online submission system, submit the first ten pages of a fiction or nonfiction manuscript or a nonfiction book proposal and the project’s query letter by September 8. There is no entry fee. Visit the website for complete guidelines.

The Gotham Writers’ Workshop was founded in 1993 by New York City writers Jeff Fligelman and David Grae as a home for writing courses. In the years since, the workshop has expanded into online courses, published a series of books on the craft of writing, held events across New York City, and, most recently, debuted the Gotham Writers Conference in 2019. This year’s conference will be held online from October 16 to October 18; winning fellows may choose to attend this year or in 2021.

A Stack of Photographs


“If this story was a stack of photographs—the old kind, rounded at the corners and kept in albums under the glass and lace doilies of center tables in parlors across the country—it would start with Vivek’s father, Chika. The first print would be of him riding a bus to the village to visit his mother,” writes Akwaeke Emezi at the start of their second novel, The Death of Vivek Oji, out this month from Riverhead Books. Taking inspiration from this novel’s introduction, think of a transformative time from your past or an incident that resulted in a change in perspective, one that involved family or friends. If you were to tell the story of this experience as a stack of photographs, what images spring to mind? Write a personal essay that begins with descriptions of a few memorable photos—or mental snapshots you’ve retained—allowing the details in the images to provide a contextual background.


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