March 2020 Top Picks: Opportunities for Writers

The  March 2020 edition of "Writing Life Essentials," a monthly hand-curated list of contests, grants, scholarships, submissions calls, and awards, with a focus on opportunities that are at least one of the following: local, free to apply, and/or committed to celebrating and supporting writers from historically marginalized communities. We do the research, so you have more time for what matters: the writing. Or, spring cleaning. That’s important too.


Contests & Awards


Ploughshares 2020 Emerging Writer's Contest

Fee: $0; Award: $2,000; Submissions open: March 1st

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. Read full guidelines here.


The Fountain Essay Contest

Fee: $0; Award: $1,000; Deadline: March 1st

The Fountain is holding an essay contest with an award of $1,000. The theme is facing challenges and examining how you mentally, physically, and/or spiritually prepare for them. The Fountain is asking you to write about any challenge, big or small. For more guidelines and submission details, click here


Robinson Jeffers Tor House 2020 Prize for Poetry

Fee: $10; Award: $1,000; Deadline: March 14th

The Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize for Poetry honors $1,000 to the winner with additional prizes to honorable mentions. It is open to poetry of all styles. It must be original, unpublished, and must not exceed three pages. Visit the website for the complete timeline and submission guidelines.


Lascaux Prize in Poetry

Fee: $15; Award: $1,000; Deadline: March 19th

The winner of the Lascaux Prize in Poetry receives $1,000, a bronze medallion, and publication online in The Lascaux Review. Poems may be previously published or unpublished, and simultaneous submissions are accepted. The winner and all finalists will be published in the annual print journal Lascaux 8. Click here for the full details and submission link.

Sonora Review Fiction & Poetry Contest

Fee: $15; Award: $1,000; Deadline: March 28th

Sonora Review is run entirely by graduate students in the MFA program at the University of Arizona. Sonora Review accepts submissions in flash prose, fiction, poetry, and non-fiction. They only accept unpublished work. For more details and submission guidelines visit their website.


Frost Farm Prize for Metrical Poetry

Fee: $6; Award: $1,000; Deadline March 30th

The Trustees of the Robert Frost Farm in Derry, NH, and the Hyla Brook Poets invite submissions for the 2020, 10th Annual The Frost Farm Prize for metrical poetry. The winner will receive $1,000 and an invitation to read in June 2020 as part of The Hyla Brook Reading Series at the Robert Frost Farm. The winner also receives a scholarship to attend the Frost Farm Poetry Conference. Click here for the complete guidelines.


Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing

Fee: $0; Award: $10,000; Deadline: March 31st

Restless Books is looking for extraordinary unpublished submissions from emerging writers of sharp, culture-straddling writing that addresses identity in a global age. Each year, a distinguished panel of judges will select a winning manuscript to be published by Restless Books. Complete overview of the submission guidelines and eligibility can be viewed on their website.


An Axe to Grind — Flash Fiction Contest

Fee: $5; Award: $200; Deadline: March 31st

The Darling Axe is looking for a story in fewer than 1,000 words for a chance to win from a growing prize pool, plus publication on The Chopping Blog. For more details on submissions please visit their website.


Gemini Magazine Short Story Contest 

Fee: $8; Award: $1,000; Deadline: March 31st

Gemini Magazine is open to any subject, style, genre or length. Stories must be unpublished but work on personal blogs is eligible. Five finalists will be published in the June 2020 issue of Gemini Magazine. For more details and to submit click here.


Speculative Literature Foundation Grants (Older Writers and South Asian)

 Fee: $0; Award: $1,000; Deadline: March 31st

All of Speculative Literature Foundation’s grants are free to apply, and are designed as ‘gateway’ grants, with easy and straightforward applications that should be quick to complete.  They hope that they will both serve the community directly, and also encourage genre writers to explore the wide variety of grants, awards, and residencies available in the larger writing community. For a full list of their available grants, visit their website.


Fellowships, Conferences & Residencies


University of Wisconsin’s Institute for Creative Writing Fellowships

Fee: $50; Award: $39,000; Deadline: March 1st

Applications are now open for the WICW Poetry and Fiction Fellowships, awarding stipends of at least $39,000 and generous health benefits. To be eligible, applicants must have completed or be scheduled to complete an MFA or PhD in Creative Writing by August 15th of the fellowship year. For full instructions and details on eligibility, please visit their website.


National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship

Fee: $0; Award: $25,000; Deadline: March 11th 

The National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowships program offers $25,000 grants in prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) and poetry to published creative writers that enable recipients to set aside time for writing, research, travel, and general career advancement. Click here for more details.


John Carter Brown Library Fellowship

Fee: $0, Award: $20,000; Deadline: March 15th

The John Carter Brown Library Fellowship supports work by academics, independent scholars and writers working on significant projects relating to the literature, history, culture, or art of the Americas before 1830. Candidates with a U.S. history topic are strongly encouraged to concentrate on the period prior to 1801. The fellowship is also open to filmmakers, novelists, creative and performing artists, and others working on projects that draw on this period of history. For more details visit the website.


Cave Canem Residency

Fee: $0; Award: $1,000; Deadline: March 15th

The Cave Canem Residency at the Rose O’Neill Literary House is a program that offers the Fellow the uninterrupted time and space to focus solely on their writing projects for a full month. The Fellow is awarded the use of a private, single-family residence for the entire month of June, along with a $1,000 honorarium for living expenses. See the guidelines and full details here


James Jones First Novel Fellowship

Fee: $30; Award: $10,000; Deadline: March 15th

A prize of $10,000 is given annually for a novel-in-progress by a U.S. writer who has not published a novel. Runners-up will receive $1,000. A selection from the winning work is published in Provincetown Arts. For complete details please visit their website


Work Experience 


Book Reviewer

Publishers Weekly is looking for freelance book reviewers with experience in a variety of subjects, such as business, essay collections, general fiction, mystery/thriller, science, and more. Click here to learn how to apply. 


Digital Writer-Editor

WBZ News Radio is hiring a part-time digital writer-editor to deepen our comprehensive online coverage of local Boston news. The digital writer-editor will independently provide news writing and gathering for our digital platforms, while also providing digitally-focused editorial guidance for newsroom staff and content support on social media. This position is part-time and based in iHeartMedia Boston’s Medford, MA offices. Complete details and job description can be viewed here.


Writing & Creative Associate

Work for Progress is a nonprofit dedicated to strengthening organizations across the country that work for social change by meeting their staffing needs. The mission of the Editorial and Creative team is to help their network win the country over to a new politics and a forward-looking agenda by messaging, packaging and amplifying their organizations, their campaigns and their staff. For more details click here




Submissions to Gulf Coast Magazine

Fee: $2.50; Award: $50; Deadline: March 1st

Gulf Coast is committed to supporting the authors who publish in their journal. This support takes many forms, including offering editorial guidance, exposing new work to the widest possible audience, and providing competitive honorariums for that work. Gulf Coast is currently accepting stories, essays, poems, interviews, reviews, art, and critical art writing. To view complete guidelines and apply visit their website.


Disability Visibility Project

Fee: $0; Deadline: March 6th

Disability Visibility Project’s Community As Home is a collaboration by two disabled artists of color, Ashanti Fortson and Alice Wong, featuring 15 digital portraits and stories representing the diversity of the disability community. This project is centered on the joy, culture, and love of disabled people and how people create communities and homes for one another. For more details and different ways to submit your work, please visit the project’s page


Submissions to Gyroscope Review

Fee: $0; Deadline: March 7th

Gyroscope Review publishes fine contemporary poetry in a variety of forms and themes. Gyroscope Review does not accept previously published works. This includes publication in print, on the Internet including on Facebook, poetry sites, and personal blogs. For complete submission guidelines visit their website.


Submissions to Embark Literary Journal 

Fee: $0; Deadline: March 15th

Please note that Embark does NOT accept submissions of memoirs or other nonfiction works. Only the openings of novels (works of fiction 50,000 words or longer) will be considered. The novel in question must be unpublished at the time of submission. It may be partially or completely written, but in either case you should have a firm sense of its overarching themes and structure. Visit their website for full submission guidelines.


Submissions to The Gateway Review

Fee: $0; Deadline: March 15th

The Gateway Review publishes surrealist, fabulist, and magic realist fiction and poetry, as well as nonfiction about the art of writing the same. Submissions may be made in two categories: traditional and expedited response. Traditional submissions are free of charge, and will receive a response a few weeks after our closing date for submissions. Specific guidelines on how to submit for each genre click here


The Massachusetts Review: Call for Native-authored work

Fee: $0; Deadline: March 31st

The Massachusetts Review is seeking unpublished work for our first special issue of the new decade. MR's editors and guest editors are looking for new Native-authored work of fiction, poetry, nonfiction, and hybrid texts for a special issue responding to the 400th anniversary of the Plymouth landing. To learn more about the guest editors and how to submit, visit their website


Submissions to The Maine Review

Fee: $3; Award: $25 Deadline: March 31st

The Main Review is open for submissions of any genre. Send them your personal essay, your classic short story, your reboot of the villanelle, or your weirdest experimental text. Send them your flash fiction or nonfiction. Send your epistle, erasure, hybrid, prose poem, or micro memoir. Send them the story of your life lived in your body. Be sure to read their guidelines before submitting.


Submissions to Sutra Press

Fee: $0; Award: $200; Deadline: Rolling

Sutra Press’ mission is to publish emerging writers that hunger for truth. They believe that good poetry should nourish the spirit. While they identify as a poetry press, they strive to publish cohesive and experimental manuscripts. 


Submissions to The Margins

Fee: $0; Deadline: Rolling

Every Tuesday, the Margins publishes the work of emerging and established Asian American poets. They are currently accepting submissions for their Poetry Tuesday feature. Visit their website for full submission guidelines and information.

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About the Author

Mia is the Spring 2020 Marketing Co-Op at GrubStreet. She is currently studying English at Northeastern, and minoring in East Asian Studies and Japanese. When Mia isn't at GrubStreet, she likes to study languages, read, write, sing a little, and spend some of (read: all of) her time with NU Barkada, Northeastern's Filipino American student association.

See other articles by Mia Narciso
by Mia Narciso


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