May 2020 Top Picks: Opportunities for Writers

The May 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, smelling the May flowers. That’s important, too.


Covid-19 Community Resources

Covid-19 Community Resources: So many of us need help and support during this uncertain time. And we’re hearing from others who want to know how to help. The spirit of togetherness we’re seeing from our community is inspiring. We’re sharing a few resources for writers and artists here. And we’re also sharing opportunities (for those who can) to support writers, the writing ecosystem, and the arts in Boston. We’ll be updating this list as we learn of new resources and opportunities.


Contests & Awards


Restless Books Prize For New Immigrant Writing

Fee: $0; Award: $10,000; Deadline: May 1st

Restless Books is looking for extraordinary unpublished submissions from emerging writers of sharp, culture-straddling writing that addresses identity in a global age.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.


Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant

Fee: $0; Award: $40,000; Deadline: May 4th

The Whiting Creative Nonfiction Grant of $40,000 will be awarded to as many as eight writers in the process of completing a book-length work of deeply researched and imaginatively composed nonfiction for a general readership. It is intended for multiyear book projects requiring large amounts of deep and focused research, thinking, and writing at a crucial point mid-process, after significant work has been accomplished but when an extra infusion of support can make a difference in the ultimate shape and quality of the work. For complete details, visit their website.


Raymond Carver Short Story Contest

Fee: $15; Award: $2,000; Deadline: May 15th

Now in its 20th year, the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest is one of the most renowned fiction contests in the world. Featuring prominent guest judges and offering $3,000 across five prizes, the contest delivers exciting new fiction from writers all over the world. Visit their website for complete guidelines and application details.


Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize

Fee: $15; Award: $1,000; Deadline: May 15th

The Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize honors the late Stanley Kunitz’s dedication to mentoring poets. The winning poem will appear on the feature page of the September/October issue of The American Poetry Review, and the poet will receive a prize of $1,000. All entrants will receive a copy of the magazine. Click here for complete guidelines.


Cow Creek Chapbook Prize

Fee: $15; Award: $1,000, 25 author copies; Deadline: May 15th

The Cow Creek Chapbook Prize is a poetry chapbook contest brought to you by Pittsburg State University and Emerald City. They are open to all styles and subjects. As long as the poems challenge and capture the imagination, they want to see them. Visit their website for complete submission guidelines.


Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize

Fee: $10; Award: $1,000; Deadline: May 15th

The Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize is awarded annually to an unpublished manuscript of original Anglophone poetry by an author of Asian heritage residing anywhere in the world. The winner receives book publication and USD 1,000. For complete rules and guidelines, click here.


Montreal International Poetry Prize

Fee: $20; Award: $20,000; Deadline: May 15th

The Montreal International Poetry Prize is committed to encouraging the creation of original works of poetry, to building international readership, and to exploring the world’s Englishes. The Montreal International Poetry Prize awards one prize of $20,000 CAD to one poet for a single poem of 40 or fewer lines. For full submission guidelines, visit their website.


Arts Writers Grant Program

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

The Arts Writers grant supports both emerging and established writers who are writing about contemporary visual art. Ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 in three categories—articles, books, and short-form writing—these grants support projects addressing both general and specialized art audiences, from short reviews for magazines and newspapers to in-depth scholarly studies. They also support art writing that engages criticism through interdisciplinary methods or experiments with literary styles. For full details on eligibility and submission guidelines, visit their website.


Bridport Prizes

Fee: $12; Award: $5,472; Deadline: May 31st

The winning poem features in the Bridport Prize anthology which opens access to other competitions. You will be invited to the awards lunch in Bridport, have a chance to chat to the judges, meet agents and take part in ongoing publicity. Entries can be on any subject in any style or form. For more information and to view the complete guidelines, click here.


Oversound Chapbook Prize

Fee: $18; Award: $1,000; Deadline: May 31st

A prize of $1,000, publication by Oversound, and 25 author copies is given annually for a poetry chapbook. francine j. harris will judge. Using only the online submission system, submit a manuscript of 15 to 30 pages with an $18 entry fee, which includes a subscription to Oversound, by May 31. Visit the website for complete guidelines.


The Writer Short Story Contest

Fee: $25; Award: $1,000; Deadline: June 2nd

The Writer encourages all of our readers to practice their craft and put their stories in front of the eyes of as many people as possible. Writing contests have always been a vital part of the writing world, giving writers the chance to have their work reviewed by editors and possibly published. Literary journals, universities and even The Writer regularly host writing competitions, helping authors gain exposure and hone their craft. For full details on their Short Story Contest, click here.




James Laughlin Award

Fee: $0; Award: $5,000; Deadline: May 15th

Offered since 1954, the James Laughlin Award is given to recognize and support a second book of poetry forthcoming in the next calendar year. The award was endowed in 1995 by a gift to the Academy from the Drue Heinz Trust. It is named for the poet and publisher James Laughlin (1914-1997), who founded New Directions in 1936. The winner receives a prize of $5,000, an all-expenses-paid weeklong residency at The Betsy Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, and distribution of the winning book to approximately one thousand Academy of American Poets members. To submit and view complete guidelines, click here.


BPL Writer-in-Residence Program

Fee: $0; Award: $20,000; Deadline: May 29th

The Boston Public Library Writer-in-Residence Program aims to provide an emerging children’s writer with the financial support and office space needed to complete one literary work for children or young adults. Their goal is to encourage the imagination of young readers, and in so doing, draw attention to the importance of authors and the essential role they perform in nurturing developing minds and furthering our culture. To learn how to apply to the program, visit their website.


Ragdale Fellowships

Fee: $0; Deadline: May 15th

Ragdale Fellowships help pay for the cost of residency, public programs, travel, and materials. Our fellowships recognize exceptional achievement as well as advance cultural exchange, emerging talent, social justice, and artists with special needs. The majority of their fellowships are underwritten by individuals on an annual basis. Fellowships support important new works, and they bring artists to their community who might not otherwise be able to join them. Click here to view the complete list of available fellowships, submission guidelines, and application details.


Work Experience


Editorial Assitant for Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices

Solstice's Editorial Assistant is a vital administrative position that includes working with authors; overseeing production of print and online issues; coordinating events such as the AWP conference, and annual Solstice party; managing interns; maintaining production schedule; managing book sales; submitting ads, submitting for annual awards; and more! Contact Lee Hope at [email protected] for more information. 


Editor for Wiley

Wiley is at the forefront of meeting the growing demand for knowledge and learning in the Health Sciences. They remain a leading global scientific publisher by adapting to meet the ever-evolving needs of our customers. The Editor position will manage and develop a portfolio of society-owned and proprietary Health Science journals focused primarily on the areas of Veterinary Science. Daily collaboration is required with colleagues in editorial, marketing, content management, corporate sales, and technology across our global organization to ensure the portfolio of publications is successful. For complete details about the job position and requirements, click here.


Digital Editor for Frontline

Frontline is PBS’s flagship investigative documentary series, which explores the issues of our time through powerful storytelling. In an age of 24/7 breaking news, they remain dedicated to thoughtful, incisive accountability journalism. Frontline is looking for a talented editor to oversee our journalistic efforts online. Under the supervision of the senior editor, this position is responsible for managing the daily editorial operations of the Frontline website, helping to shape the series' digital footprint and supervising the team assigned to build content. View the entire job listing here.


A&G Copywriter

A&G is looking for a writer who can arrange words in the most delightful of ways for our roster of worthy clients. You’ll be surrounded by a like minded team of creative thinkers and doers that will expect you to deliver your best, while also suggesting that you stay for one more at happy hour. As a copywriter for A&G, you will be expected to write and edit copy, then give it all another look just to be sure it’s compelling. Work with (and tolerate) art directors and/or designers in a collaborative manner to create and execute inspired campaigns. Please visit their website for the complete job listing and requirements.




Submissions to the Bennington Review

Fee: $0; Deadline: May 8th

The Bennington Review aims to stake out a distinctive space for innovative, intelligent, and moving fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, film writing, and cross-genre work. In the spirit of poet Dean Young’s dictum that poets should be “making birds, not birdcages,” they are particularly taken with writing that is simultaneously graceful and reckless. For full submission details and guidelines, visit their website.


Submissions to Creative Nonfiction

Fee: $3; Deadline: May 18th

Creative Nonfiction is open to all types of creative nonfiction, from immersion reportage to personal essay to memoir. Their editors tend to gravitate toward submissions structured around narratives, but they are always happy to be pleasantly surprised by work that breaks outside this general mold. Above all, they are most interested in writing that blends style with substance, and reaches beyond the personal to tell us something new about the world. To view the complete submission guidelines, please visit their website.


Submissions to Newfound

Fee: $15; Deadline: May 15th

Newfound is a nonprofit publisher based in Austin, Texas. Their work explores how place shapes identity, imagination, and understanding. The journal is published biannually online and features fiction, poetry, nonfiction, visual arts, reviews, and more. Click here to read their complete submission guidelines.


Submissions to the New England Review

Fee: $2-$3; Deadline: May 31st

The New England Review welcomes fiction, poetry, nonfiction, drama, translation, and creative writing for the web (NER Digital). For translations, please confirm that translation rights are available. They only accept writing that has not been published previously, whether in print or on the web. Visit their website for more details and complete submission guidelines.


Submissions to Contemporary Verse 2

Fee: $0; Deadline: May 31st

Contemporary Verse 2 is a quarterly literary journal that publishes poetry and critical writing about poetry, including interviews, articles, essays, and reviews. It is their policy to publish new writing by both emerging and established poets. The writing they encourage reflects a diversity representing a range of social and cultural experience along with literary excellence. For complete submission guidelines, visit their website.


Submissions to Anchor Magazine

Fee: $; Deadline: Rolling

Still Harbor believes that spirituality cultivates the depth of imagination, courage, and resilience we need to create a more kind, equitable, and sustainable world. Anchor editors are particularly interested in personal narratives, spiritual practices, articles sharing expertise through stories, and poetic or artistic expressions that contemplate the work of peace, justice, and healing; faith-based experiences of service, activism, and social change; issue areas of race, gender, and environment; and hopeful inspirations. For complete guidelines please visit their website (submission information is at the very bottom of the page).


Submissions to Solstice

Fee: $3; Deadline: Rolling

Solstice welcomes experimental or traditional pieces of fiction, nonfiction or poetry, and also photography. Nonfiction for Solstice includes the essay as well as memoir. They also consider excerpts from novels or nonfiction books, especially if the piece can stand alone.

Controversial topics are fine with them. To view the complete submission guidelines visit their website.


Submissions to The Sun 

Fee: $0; Award: $100-$2,000; Deadline: Rolling

The Sun is a reader-supported ad-free magazine. They have been described in many ways: celebratory, fierce, unflinching, thoughtful, truthful, dark, darkly funny, tender. They publish personal essays, fiction, and poetry. Personal stories that touch on political and cultural issues are welcome. They encourage submissions from writers of color. View more submission guidelines here.

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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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