Teen Contests

Guide to Teen Writing Contests in Fiction, Poetry & Nonfiction

IMPORTANT: Deadlines for teen writing contests sometimes vary year to year. To verify dates, click on contest websites. For additional publishing opportunities, click here.

JANUARY

John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest

The John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Essay Contest for grades 9-12 challenges students to write an original, creative essay of 700 – 1,000 words that demonstrates an understanding of political courage as described by John F. Kennedy in Profiles in Courage. Students must cite at least five sources such as government documents, letters, newspaper articles, books, and/or personal interviews. The first place winner and his/her nominating teacher will be invited to receive awards at the annual Profile in Courage Award ceremony held each May at the Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston. Deadline: January 4, 2018.

Writers Theatre of NJ Young Playwright’s Contest

The Writers Theatre of New Jersey  invites middle and high school students grades 4-12 to submit plays up to 20 pages in length. While we enjoy plays with “realistic” structures, we also encourage plays that are non-traditional and inventive. We look for strong plot, characterization, dialogue, conflict, theme, and originality.  Plays may be on any topic, but there is a special category, “Living with Disabilities” designed to find plays either written by an author with a disability, or a play with themes or characters dealing with disabilities. Formatting instructions may be found under the Submissions Guidelines tab. Winning plays will be performed by professional actors. Deadline: January 15, 2018.

The Theater Project Young Playwrights Competition

The Theater Project Young Playwrights Competition invites high school students age 13-18 to submit plays 10 -30 pages in length. Scripts must be original, no adaptations, and be submitted in play format. Winning plays will be performed by professional actors. One entry per student. There is an entry fee of $10. Questions? Email TheaterProject@aol.com or call 908-809-8865. Deadline: January 2018 (TBA)

The Writing Conference, Inc.

The Writing Conference, Inc., sponsors writing contests for elementary, junior high/middle and high school students. Students may create a poem, a narrative, or an essay. Only one piece of writing from a student may be submitted. Winners will be published in The Writers’ Slate.  Entries must address the annual theme. The 2017 theme is “change.” Create a poem, narrative, or essay in which you incorporate your ideas and feelings concerning competition. Deadline: January 15, 2018

FEBRUARY

NCTE Achievement Award in Writing

Achievement Awards in Writing is a school-based writing program established in 1957 to encourage high school students in their writing and to recognize publicly some of the best student writers in the nation.  The National Council of Teachers of English recognize students cited as excellent writers by judges.  Only students who are JUNIORS in the current academic year may be nominated for the award. Each high school selects its own nominee. Entries must include two pieces of writing, one “best” and the other responding to a theme designated by the contest. This year’s theme can be found in the online brochure . If you would like to be considered, give your submission to Mr. Stourton by February 1, 2018.

Davidson Fellows Scholarship in Literature

Davidson awards $50,000, $25,ooo and $10,000 scholarships to extraordinary young people, 18 and younger, who have completed a significant piece of work. Submit a 60-75 page portfolio including 3 different genres: poetry, fiction, nonfiction and/or dramatic script; plus a table of contents, 2 application essays, 3 letters of recommendation from teachers familiar with your work, and a 10 minute video of you explaining your artistic vision. See website for details. Previous NA winner: Coleman Hughes for Music. Deadline for all materials: February 8, 2017.

Kenyon Review Short Fiction Contest

The Kenyon Review will publish the winning short story in the Winter 2014 issue, and the author will be awarded a scholarship to attend the 2014 Writers Workshop, June in Gambier, Ohio.Writers must be 30 years of age or younger at the time of submission. Stories must be no more than 1200 words in length. One submission per entrant. Please do not simultaneously submit your contest entry to another magazine or contest. All work must be submitted through our electronic system. The submissions link will be active February 1st to February 28th.

Atlantic Magazine/College Board AP US History Contest

The Atlantic and the College Board hold an annual writing contest to recognize the best high school essayists, with the writer of the grand prize-winning essay receiving a cash prize and publication in the magazine. For their essays, students this year will focus on important documents from American history. The annual contest seeks to identify promising young writers in the United States and around the world and to instill the analytical-writing skills critical to success in college and professional life. Sponsoring teachers can submit essays for students from January 1 to February 28. (NOTE: Contest NOT running in 2017).

MARCH

The Apprentice Writer

Published by Susquehanna University, The Apprentice Writer features fiction, poetry, drama, personal essays and photographs by high school students. There are no restrictions on style, subject matter or length (up to 30 pages). We are looking for the best-written work and photography/graphics by high school students (grades 9-12) from the United States. Submission Deadline: March 15.

Claremont Review Annual Writing Contest

Note: this contest requires a $20 reading fee which gives you a one-year subscription to the magazine. Submit up to 3 poems and/or 1 short story up to 5,000 words. Flash fiction and plays welcome. The editors of The Claremont Review are looking for first class poetry and short stories by young adult writers (aged 13-19) anywhere in the English speaking world. We publish anything from traditional to post modern, but with a preference for works that reveal something of the human condition. We strongly urge contributors to read back issues of The Claremont Review. That is the best way for you to learn what we are looking for. Deadline: Postmarked by March 15.

Johns Hopkins University Creative Minds Fiction Contest

Imagine, a magazine of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, holds an annual writing contest for students 18 and under. This year’s genre is fiction. Students may enter up to 2 stories (no required theme) of up to 1,000 words each. Stories that have won other contests or that have appeared in any print or online publications are not eligible. here. You will see a screen confirming that your entry has been submitted. Questions may be directed to mhartman@jhu.edu. See the winning stories from previous years in our Fiction Archives. Deadline: Friday, March 16, 2017, at 5:00 p.m.

Writing for Peace Young Writers Contest

This contest invites writers ages 13-19 to submit once in each category.  Fiction: 800-1000 words in the voice of a character from another country or culture. Poetry: one poem of no more than 100 lines in the voice of a character from another country or culture. Nonfiction: 800-1000 word essay about a social, political, environmental, or familial challenge faced by individuals within a cultural group, or a personal experience with another culture. Deadline: March 1.

Live Poets Society of New Jersey

The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Summer issue is March 31.

APRIL

Adobe Youth Voices Aspire Awards

Adobe Youth Voices invites you to participate in the Aspire Awards, giving  young creatives the opportunity to have their work showcased publicly. This media festival seeks to recognize outstanding creative projects that demonstrate imagination and expression along with an evident motivation for social change. Categories include narrative, poetry/experimental, music video, audio, documentary, digital photography, etc. Deadline: Mid-April.

NCTE Norman Mailer High School & College Writing Awards for Creative Nonfiction

The Norman Mailer Center and Writers Colony and the National Council of Teachers of English jointly sponsor the annual Norman Mailer High School and College Writing Awards for creative nonfiction.  Entries of 10 single-spaced pages or less will be accepted online only and may include one or more pieces of writing. Quality is far more important than quantity. Entries must be endorsed by a teacher and released by a parent or guardian. Winners receive travel and lodging to attend the Colony’s National Award Ceremony and a $5,000 award. Entries accepted March 1–April 30, Noon CST. (TAKING A ONE YEAR HIATUS IN 2017. CONTEST WILL RESUME IN 2018).

Peace Islands Institute Art & Essay Contest

2014 theme: Reduce, reuse, recycle: Can our children enjoy the same resources and beauty that we have had for generations? Submit one of the following about saving the earth’s natural resources: an informative essay, a narrative story or a true story. 1,000 word max. New Times Roman, 12 point. Include your name, grade, school, sponsoring teacher’s name and teacher’s email. Each teacher may sponsor up to 5 students per grade. Teacher must submit all entries in one envelope.  Winner receives $600. Deadline: Early April.

 Poets.org “Dear Poet” Project

For National Poetry Month, we introduce Dear Poet, a multimedia educational project that invites young people in grades 5-12 to write a letter in response to poems shared by some of the award-winning poets who serve on the Academy of American Poets Board of Chancellors. Students—to participate in Dear Poet, watch the videos on the link of poets reading one of their poems. Then, write a response letter to one of the poets and email it to us at dearpoet@poets.org. Your “letter” can take the form of a poem. Please include your name and the name of the poet below who has inspired your letter. We will consider all student letters for publication on Poets.org in May. Deadline: April 30, 2017.

MAY

The Claudia Ann Seaman Awards for Young Writers

Sponsored by Polyphony, a student-run national literary magazine, the Claudia Ann Seaman Awards are open to all students in grades 9–12. Each participant may submit a total of three works, either poems, stories, essays, or any combination (1500 word limit for fiction and creative non-fiction. All submissions must contain the necessary contact information; see website for details. Cash award is $200. Deadline: May 30, 2017.

Teen Ink Fiction Contest

Teen Ink will only consider original fiction written by teens. Entries of all genres are accepted, whether fantasy, horror, sci-fi or romance. Short stories should be between 500 and 2,500 words. Send your short stories to: Teen Ink Biannual Fiction Contest, Box 30, Newton, MA 02461. All fiction pieces submitted to Teen Ink are automatically considered for the Fiction Contest. See our submission guidelines for more information. Poetry and nonfiction contest entries are accepted throughout the year. Fiction deadline: May 1, 2017.

Young Poets Network Contests

The Young Poets Network offers a variety of writing challenges and contests throughout the year for poets age 25 and under from all over the world. Check Young Poets Network website for details. Current Challenge: “Turn Up the Volume” poems about our climate change and inequality. See website for details.  Send as many poems as you like. If you are sending a written version of your poem, please include it in the body of an email. If you are sending a video or audio file, please attach it to the email (making sure it’s no bigger than 4MB or it won’t come through) or send us a link to where we can see/hear it. Send your poems to educationadmin@poetrysociety.org.uk with your name, age and address. Put “Turn Up the Volume” in the subject line. By entering, you give permission for Young Poets Network to reproduce your poem in print and online, though copyright remains with you. The deadline is Wednesday, May 31, 2017 (U.K. time).

One Teen Story Contest

One Teen Story is open to students age 14-19. Short stories should be between 1,500 to 4,000 words and be the writer’s own original, unpublished work. Previously published stories and stories forthcoming at other publications cannot be considered. No entry form or fee is required. Deadline: May 31, 2017.

JUNE

Mahatma Gandhi Writing & Art Contest

Open to all New Jersey middle and high school students. Entries must be poems or short essays no longer than 300 words based on the following quote: “Our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilization.” – Mahatma Gandhi. Contest is sponsored by the Association of Indians in America. Cash awards range from $50 to $250. For more information, visit click here.Deadline: June 15, 2017.

Young Poets Network Contests

The Young Poets Network offers a variety of writing challenges and contests throughout the year for poets age 25 and under from all over the world. Check Young Poets Network website for details. Current Challenge: “Melting Ice” poems about our melting ice caps. See website for details.  Send as many poems as you like. If you are sending a written version of your poem, please include it in the body of an email. If you are sending a video or audio file, please attach it to the email (making sure it’s no bigger than 4MB or it won’t come through) or send us a link to where we can see/hear it. Send your poems to educationadmin@poetrysociety.org.uk with your name, age and address. Put “Melting Ice” in the subject line. By entering, you give permission for Young Poets Network to reproduce your poem in print and online, though copyright remains with you. The deadline is Sunday,June 18, 2017 (U.K. time).

Live Poets Society of New Jersey

The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Fall issue is June 30, 2016.

JULY

The Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award

Sponsored by the Poetry Society, the Foyle Young Poets Award is the UK’s largest poetry competition for 11-17 year olds. The competition is free 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 small selection of your very best (we suggest no more than 6-8 maximum). Remember, quality is more important than quantity! See Full Rules. Deadline: July 31, 2017

SEPTEMBER

Live Poets Society of New Jersey

The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Winter issue is September 30, 2017.

OCTOBER

National Endowment for the Arts “YoungArts” Scholarships

The mission of YoungArts, a program of the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts, is to identify emerging artists and assist them at critical junctures in their educational and professional development, and to raise the appreciation for, and support of, the arts in American Society. The program offers scholarships in nine disciplines: cinematic arts, dance, jazz, music, photography, theater, visual arts, voice and writing. The sub-categories for writing are: poetry (up to 6 poems, 10 pages max), creative nonfiction (up to 3 essays, 20 pages max), scriptwriting, novel excerpts and short stories (up to 3 stories, 20 pages max). The entry fee per category is $35. Deadline: October 13, 2017 @ NOON.
 

NOVEMBER

Bennington Young Writers Competition

Each year, the Bennington Young Writers Competition invites students in the 10th, 11th, or 12th grade to submit their original writing for the Bennington Young Writers Competition. First-place winners in each category are awarded a prize of $500; second-place winners receive $250. Students submit one of the following: poetry (a group of three poems), fiction (a short story or one-act play), nonfiction (a personal or academic essay). More than 2,300 students submitted poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to last year’s Young Writers Competition. We congratulate all entrants on their extraordinary submissions. Entries were judged by current Bennington students and literature faculty members. Deadline: November 1, 2017.

Princeton University Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Secondary School Poetry Prize

Eligibility is limited to students in the eleventh grade during the current academic year. Applicants may submit up to three poems in a single PDF file with name, home address, email address, telephone number and name of high school, HS telephone number on each poem. The jury will consist of members of the Princeton University Creative Writing faculty such as Michael Dickman, Paul Muldoon, Tracy K. Smith, and Susan Wheeler. See website for details. Submissions must be submitted electronically by November 24, 2017.

Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers

This contest is open only to writers whose fiction has not appeared, nor is scheduled to appear, in any print publication with a circulation over 5,000. Most entries run from 1,500 – 6,000 words, but any lengths up to 12,000 words are welcome. Reading fee: $15 per story. Please no more than three submissions per contest. Prizes: 1st place wins $1,500, publication in Glimmer Train Stories, and 20 copies of that issue. Deadline: November 30, 2017.

Kenyon Review Patricia Grodd Poetry Contest for Young Writers

The Patricia Grodd Poetry Prize for Young Writers recognizes outstanding young poets and is open to high school sophomores and juniors throughout the world. The contest winner receives a full scholarship to the Kenyon Review Young Writers workshop. In addition, the winning poem will be published in The Kenyon Review. The runners up will also see their poems published. Submissions for the contest will be accepted electronically November 1 through November 30, 2017. One entry per student.

Teen Ink National Essay Contest

Submit an essay of 1,00o words or less on the following topic: If you were Mayor of your town, what issue would you address and how? Winner earns $500. Submit to the Teen Ink website by November 30, 2017.

DECEMBER

New Jersey Youth Poet Laureate Contest

High school students from all over the state can enter the NJ Youth Poet Laureate Contest by submitting five poems via our online form, found here, under the “Prepare the Submission” tab: https://www.wtnj.org/nj-youth-poet-laureate/.  Four of the poems can be on any subject at all, but the fifth poem must relate to the theme “Mind Your Elders.” The poems can be in any style of poetry, including rap or spoken word (though they must be submitted in written form), and can be new works created just for the contest or existing poems the poet has written. Prizes include a Governor’s Award, opportunities for the poets to read their work throughout the state, and the publication of the poems in an anthology. For more information on the program, go to the NJYPL page here: https://www.wtnj.org/nj-youth-poet-laureate/ Deadline: December 1, 2017.

Jersey Shorts Fiction Contest

Submit 2 pieces of fiction. One, 1,500 word max, may be on any subject of your choosing. The second, 750 word max, must respond to the Annual Prompt. The 2017 prompt is as follows: In 750 words or less, give us the complete life of a character. The challenge here is to present to us an individual, unique and distinctive, while also giving us a sense of that person’s entire existence, whether that existence was in the service of others, or with a philosophy of utter selfishness, or with an impact no one could have foreseen. Maybe this character’s life presents a lesson for others to live by (or resist). Surprise us with details about this fictional life, keeping in mind that the most surprising details are the ones we embarrassingly admit are too, too true. More Information: wtnj.org/jersey-shorts.  Winner earns a Governor’s Award and staged performance of her/his work. Deadline: December 1, 2017.

River of Words International Poetry & Art Contest

Every year, in affiliation with the Library of Congress Center for the Book, River of Words sponsors a free international poetry and art contest on the theme of watersheds.  Entries may be submitted electronically through the website. POETRY: 32-line max. PHOTOGRAPHY or ARTWORK: 11×17 max. Grand Prize and international winners receive an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., to attend the awards ceremony at the Library of Congress. Deadline: December 1, 2017.

Scholastic Writing Awards

The Scholastic Writing Awards Alliance for Young Writers accepts submissions from students in grades 7 through 12. Students can earn opportunities for recognition, exhibition, publication and scholarships. Works designated as Gold Keys on the regional level are forwarded for national-level review where they can earn Silver Medals and Gold Medals. Categories include dramatic script, humor, journalism, personal essay, poetry, novel writing, science fiction, and short story. Deadline: December 7, 2017.

Letters About Literature

The Letters About Literature contest is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress. Students write to an author describing how that author’s work somehow changed his/her view of the world or himself/herself. Readers respond to the book they’ve read by exploring the personal relationship between themselves, the author and the book’s characters or themes.  Entries must be postmarked by December 9, 2017. NOTE: The entry form requires a signature from your English or Creative Writing teacher. (See website for details).

Rider University Annual High School Writing Contest

High School students may submit one entry per category: essay, fiction and poetry. Essays and fiction may be no more than five typed, doubled-spaced pages. Poem may be up to 50 lines. Include on the entry your name, address, grade, teacher’s name, school name and school address. Include a letter from a teacher stating that the work is original and by you. All work must include a title. Mail to: Dr. Roberta Clipper, English Department, Rider University, 2083 Lawrenceville Road, Lawrenceville, NJ 08648. Winners receive $100 and possible inclusion in Rider’s literary magazine, Venture.Deadline: Postmarked by December 15, 2017.

NJ Council of Teachers of English High School Writing Contest

NJCTE invites New Jersey students in grades 9-12 to participate in its annual Writing Contest. Categories include poetry (one poem, 50 line max), short story (5-page max), and personal essay (5 page max). Check the website for this year’s themed essay contest. 2018 Nonfiction Theme: “Awakenings.” Poetry and Fiction have no required theme. See website for details.  Click here to register for the contest. NOTE: Teachers may only sponsor up to 10 students. If you are the 11th student, your work will be disqualified. Ask your English or Creative Writing teacher to sponsor you. Ms. James will sponsor up to 10 students on a first come/first served basis. Deadline: December 16, 2017.

Poetry Society of America

<Louise Louis/Emily F. Bourne Student Poetry Award $250. This prize is awarded for the best unpublished poem by a student in grades 9 through 12 from the United States. Teachers or administrators may submit an unlimited number of their students’ poems (one submission per student). Print out the cover form, fill out the information, and staple it to the poem. The poem itself should have no name on it.  Deadline: Postmarked by December 22, 2017 or give to Ms. James by December 13 for inclusion in a group mailing from NA.

Live Poets Society of New Jersey

The Live Poets Society of New Jersey is open to students in grades 9-12. You may submit no more than one poem within a 90 day period. Poems must be 20 lines or less. Scholarship awards available. Deadline for Spring issue is December 31, 2017.

ONGOING DEADLINES

Figment: Write Yourself In

Figment hosts a variety of contests on an ongoing basis throughout the year. Check website for current contests.

Young Poets Network

The Young Poets Network is a UK site that lists upcoming contests and magazine calls for submission. Some of the listings are for UK residents only, but many are international. The site allows you to filter your search by age range and type of market. 

ADDITIONAL CONTESTS

New Pages Young Authors Guide to publications and contests is a useful and thorough guide to a wide variety of legitimate contests and literary markets for teenagers and young adults.

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