The theme for the contest is DESIRE. For a sense of what we’re looking for, please see our issue preview page.
You may submit an essay of up to 5000 words for consideration. Include a cover letter with a brief biography, your contact information and any other pertinent information about your submission. Please remove your name or any other identifying marks from your manuscript before uploading.
Muslim-American poet Fatimah Asghar navigates intergenerational violence, vulnerability and love in her collection If They Come for Us (Penguin Random House).
Don’t Let Them See Me Like This by Jasmine Gibson
In her debut poetry collection, Don’t Let Them See Me Like This, Jasmine Gibson unearths the brutality of capitalism, biopolitics and White supremacy and explores desire and the idea of political insurgency (Nightboat).
Eligibility: Writers who do not have significant publication credits, are not enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate writing program, do not hold an undergraduate or graduate writing degree, and have clear ideas of what they hope to accomplish through their writing.
“I’m always looking for a good thriller, and this just was perfect. It’s exactly the kind of thriller that I most enjoy.
The two main characters, one of them is a bounty hunter named Alice Vega — she lives in California, but she’s called to come to a small town in Pennsylvania where two girls, two sisters, have been kidnapped. And she has had great success in finding missing children before. So the family of these two girls calls her in and she goes to work with a disgraced policeman from that town’s police force named Max Caplan.
And the two of them together make this very interesting team, bringing their separate talents together to try to locate these two girls. You really want to spend time with these two main characters. It was one of those things where the plot was great and it was complex enough to keep me interested, but what I loved most was the way these two very, very different characters — complicated with complicated lives — interact.”
“What Elisabeth Åsbrink has done is take one particular year, 1947, two years after the end of World War II, and go through month by month talking about everything that happened during those months.
And it turns out that 1947 was a really, really eventful year. It was a year of Nuremberg trials. Very close to where I am in Seattle, flying saucers were seen over the Oregon Cascades. And the book is interwoven with her father’s story, who spent 1947 in a Zionist orphanage in Germany.
It’s just one of those books that makes you want to major in history. It is one of the best books, certainly the best nonfiction book, that I’ve read recently. I think the subtitle, Where Now Begins, really speaks to one of the things that makes this book so important: The echoes of 1947 are resonating very, very clearly today.”
“Lyanda Lynn Haupt became interested in Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart because the story is that he was walking in Vienna down the street and he heard a bird. They had bird shops there — birds were very popular as pets — and he heard a bird singing a section of a concerto he had just finished composing. So he had to have this bird.
And that just captivated Lyanda, who after reading a little more about it decided she needed a starling. And of course starlings are probably the most despised bird ever. So she and her husband procured a baby starling that she proceeded to raise. So this is a book both about what it’s like to raise a starling and have a bird in your house flying around, but also interspersed with this biography of Mozart and Mozart’s relationship with his starling.
The thing about Lyanda is that her books really open up a world that many of us who spend so much time indoors don’t appreciate enough. And she’s thoughtful, she’s very smart, and this is just an utterly charming book.”
“This is a fabulous first novel by Joanna Cannon set in 1976 in a small hamlet in England. It’s one of the hottest summers on record there, and one of the women in this neighborhood has disappeared. Mrs. Creasy is nowhere to be found and no one knows where she’s gone. And two little girls, Tilly and Grace, decide they are going to find out what happened to Mrs. Creasy.
So this is a little bit of a mystery — what happened to Mrs. Creasy — but more it’s an examination of a group of people all with secrets of their own and the fear that some of those secrets are going to come out because of the girls’ inquisitiveness. But it’s laced with wonderful, wonderful touches of humor, including an absolutely priceless scene where Tilly and Grace make one of their regular trips to the library and are looking for something good to read.
I loved this book. It’s one of those books that you just want to give to everybody.”
“This is a first novel and it’s great fun to read. The Ribkins are an African-American family. It turns out that each of the Ribkins has a special talent, and the talent can be scaling walls, or seeing colors where other people just see muddiness, or being able to take things away from people out of people’s hands before they know it.
At first they put these talents to use protecting leaders of the civil rights movement in the 1970s. But when this wasn’t working out, when they felt they had done all they could, they turned to crime and did a series of burglaries that were fabulously successful. But now the leader of that group, Johnny Ribkins, is 72 and he needs money. And what he decides to do is he’s going to go make a trip around all the places where they buried some of the loot that they had gotten in their robberies. But he’s forced to take with him a niece that he didn’t know existed, the daughter of a much younger half-brother. And so this is seven days in the life of the Ribkins trying to get the money back, and also getting to know one another and figuring out where they belong in the world.”
Seven-Day Magic by Edward Eager
“There are two kinds of fantasy for children, and the one that has taken precedence in the 21st century especially is the type of fantasy where magic occurs in the world and everybody knows. But in the 20th century, the big kind of fantasy were books in which ordinary boys and girls find something that’s magic and they have to tame the magic, and then they use the magic.
And Edward Eager wrote fantasy novels based on that premise. I loved these books, and this one, it’s about a magic book. These five children go to the library. They see this book just lying on the shelf. It doesn’t have a nice cover; it looks very worn. And they check it out and when they check it out the librarian gives them a very interested look. It’s only a seven-day book. And what we do is follow seven days of what happens to them as they gradually learn to use the magic in the book.”
“This is a mystery. It’s set in Kolkata in 1919. It is written from the point of view of a British police officer who has come to Kolkata after World War I. His world was destroyed in the war, and to get away from England, he comes to India to run the police force.
Sam Wyndham, who is the main character, his sergeant is a man named Surendranath Banerjee, but the British officers have a little trouble with “Surendranath” so they call him “Surrender-not.” A British man is found dead, and in this guy’s mouth is stuffed a piece of paper that says, “Quit India,” and other things. So they realize that it must be a political killing and the two of them, Sergeant Banerjee and Sam Wyndham, investigate the crime.
I pretty much love any book that’s set in India, and I love history.”
All 100 winners will be invited to a prestigious Awards Ceremony in London.
The top 15 winners will have their poems printed in the winners’ print anthology, over 20,000 copies of which are distributed to school libraries and poetry enthusiasts. The anthology is also available online.
The 85 commended poets will have their work published in an online anthology and their names in the print anthology.
The top 15 Winners will be invited to attend a life-changing residential writing course at one of the prestigious Arvon Centres, or receive mentoring from a professional poet (age dependent).
Eligibility: Any young poet, writing in English, aged 11-17 as of the deadline.
You must be aged 11-17 on the closing date of the 31st July 2018 (inclusive) in order to enter.
Individuals may enter more than one poem, however we strongly advise that you concentrate on drafting and redrafting your poems and send only a selection of your very best. Remember, quality is more important than quantity.
The competition is free to enter and poems can be of any length and on any theme.
Your work is accepted on the basis that this will be its first publication anywhere in the world. This includes:
anthologies, magazines, solo collections, school prints;
online, including blogs and online magazines;
social media such as Twitter, Facebook or Instagram;
any regional, national or online TV station or via any radio platform.
Poems cannot have won any other competition.
Poems must be the original work of the author (we do run checks for plagiarism on all selected poems).
Poems must be in English.
You cannot enter a poem written by more than one author.
Entries will be accepted from anywhere in the world.
If you are 11-12 your parent or guardian will need to give permission for you to enter. Permission can be given online or by sending in the parent or guardian permission form.
Submit a prose poem, a piece of flash fiction, or a micro-essay of up to 500 words. Each entry can include up to 3 pieces.
Each entry is $18, which includes a yearlong subscription to Gulf Coast.
Only previously unpublished work will be considered. The contest will be judged blindly, so please do not include your cover letter, your name, or any contact information in the uploaded document. This information should only be pasted in the “Comments” field.
Honorable mentions will each receive $250. All entries will be considered for publication.
Remember to send up to three pieces. Any genre for this contest! Each piece should be 500 words or less and in a single word document.
Entrant’s name must not appear on the submission.
A cover letter is not required but can be included in the comments box if you like.
Each $20 fee gets you a year-long subscription of the journal. International addressees, please add $12 for postage ($7 for addresses in Canada). If the fee provides a hardship, keep an eye out for discounted rates near the end of July.
Be sure to select the genre “2018 1/2 K Prize” on the submission form. Submissions with incorrectly designated genres will not be read.
A “Submit Entry” button will appear here when submissions open. Click it to get started. You will be redirected to the Submissions Manager to upload your submission after making the PayPal payment. If you are not automatically redirected, please contact email@example.com and we will ensure you are able to complete your submission.
Prize: $10,000 and publication in the winter edition of the magazine. Ten finalists will also receive $200 each and publication, and be eligible for the $2,000 Readers’ Choice Award, to be selected by subscriber and entrant vote.
Prize: First Prize is $1,500, Second Prize is $750, Third Prize is $300, and up to ten finalists will receive $75 each. All entries will be considered for publication. All contest entries are eligible for the $4,000 Narrative Prize and for acceptance as a Poem of the Week.
Entry:Online submissions only. There is a $26 fee for each entry. With your entry, you’ll receive three months of complimentary access to Narrative Backstage.
Judging: The contest will be judged by the editors of the magazine. Winners and finalists will be announced to the public by September 30, 2018. All writers who enter will be notified by email of the judges’ decisions. The judges reserve the option to declare ties and to designate and award only as many winners and/or finalists as are appropriate to the quality of contest entries and of work represented in the magazine.
Burnt Shadows by Kamila Shamsie. Shamsie, a Pakistani writer who also lives in London, opens this powerful novel in Nagasaki, shortly before its destruction. The young woman protagonist, who is one of the few survivors, leaves Japan and continues her life, forever transformed, in India, Turkey, Pakistan, and beyond. This is not Shamsie’s most recent novel, but it is one of great power and lyrical beauty.
Likewise, perhaps, Kevin Young has been publishing in a variety of genres, and his most recent book of poems, Brown, has received enthusiastic reviews. I’ve been reading his Book of Hours, however, an astonishing poetic engagement with grief, loss, and death. Superb and accessible poems.
Finally, the first novel by a young Kenyon author of extraordinary talent, Meghan Kenny. The Driest Season is spare, wise, lyrical, and potent. It’s a quick read and one I highly recommend.
Deadline: June 30, 2018 Prize: $2,500, publication in Glimmer Train, 10 copies Entry: $18 fee, Submittable Eligibility: Emerging writers whose fiction has not appeared in any print publication with a circulation over 5,000.
Short Story Award Guidelines:
This category is exclusively open to writers whose fiction has not appeared, nor is scheduled to appear, in any print publication with a circulation over 5000. (Entries must not have appeared in any print publication.)
Most entries run from 800 – 4000 words, but any lengths up to 12,000 words are welcome.
Winners will be contacted directly the week before the public announcement in our bulletins on September 1, 2018.
Deadline:June 30, 2018 Prize: $1000, book publication and distribution through University Press of New England, 100 complimentary copies Entry: $25 fee; Submittable or US mail Eligibility: previously unpublished book-length collection of poetry, written in or translated into English
Deadline: June 30, 2018 Prize: $1500 and book publication by Barrow Street Press Entry Fee: $25 hard copy, $28 online Eligibility: 50-80 page previously unpublished manuscript of original poetry, written in English Questions:firstname.lastname@example.org
Submit a 50-80 page unpublished manuscript of original poetry in English. Please number the pages of your manuscript and include a table of contents and an acknowledgments page for any previously published poems.
Since 1971, Ploughshares has been committed to promoting the work of up-and-coming writers. Over the years, Ploughshares has helped launch the careers of great writers like Edward P. Jones, Sue Miller, Mona Simpson, Tim O’Brien, and many more.
In the spirit of the journal’s founding mission, the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest recognizes work by an emerging writer in each of three genres: fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. One winner in each genre per year will receive $2,000 and publication in the literary journal. We consider authors “emerging” if they haven’t published or self-published a book.
The Emerging Writer’s Contest is now open. See the full guidelines to submit.
Open only to writers whose fiction has not appeared, nor is scheduled to appear, in a print publication with a circulation over 5,000. (Entries must not have appeared in print, but previous online publication is fine.) Most entries run from 1,000 to 5,000 words, but any lengths up to 12,000 are welcome.
The Short Story Award for New Writers contest is held three times a year and is open to submissions in January/February, May/June, and September/October, with the following deadlines:
February 29 | June 30 | October 31
NOTE: All contest deadlines have a one-week grace period.