December Top Picks: Opportunities for Writers

Welcome to the December 2017 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, the taking obsessive precautions during flu season. That matters too. 


Contests & Awards

Free Submissions to the Michigan Quarterly Review Prizes.

Fee: $0; Award: $500-$1,000; Deadline: Dec 15.

Lawrence Foundation Prize: $1,000 for the best short story. Laurence Goldstein Prize: $500 cash to the author of a poem or group of poems. Page Davidson Clayton Prize for Emerging Poets: $500 to the best poet who has yet to publish a book. These awards are not part of a contest. Only works published in the Michigan Quarterly Review are eligible, and all works published in the relevant categories are automatically considered for the awards. 


Submissions to the 2017 Willow Books Literature Awards in Poetry & Prose by Writers of Color. 

Fee: $25-30; Award: $1,000 & book contract; Deadline: Dec 15.

Full-length prose manuscripts not exceeding 200 pages in length, including front and back matter. Collections of short stories, novellas, etc. are also eligible. Full-length collections of poetry by a single author are eligible (45-90 pages in length). Entries must not be under consideration by any other press at time of submission.


Free Submissions to the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize for poets of color.

Fee: $0; Award: $250 & publication; Deadline: Dec 31.

Poets of color who have not previously published a book-length volume of poetry. Winner must be available for a reading in Chicago in January of 2019.


Free Submissions to Ouen Press Short Story "Taste" Competition.

Fee: $0; Award: 300 GBP & publication; Deadline: Dec 31.

The short story must be a work of fiction that explores the concept of 'Taste' within its theme. 3,000-10,000 words.


Free Submissions to Society for Classical Poets 2018 Poetry Competition.

Fee: $0; Award: $500; Deadline: Dec 31.

Submit three to five poems, each of which does not exceed 50 lines. The poems must be within the four themes used by the Society: The Issues of Our Age, Beautiful & sublime, Humor & Riddles, and Greate Culture.  At least one poem must be in the Issues of Our Age theme.


$ Submissions to the 92Y / Boston Review Poetry Contest.

Fee: $15; Award: $500, publication & residency; Deadline: Jan 12.

This year’s preliminary judges are Timothy Donnelly and A. H. Jerriod Avant; final judges are Craig Santos Perez, Srikanth Reddy and Dara Wier.


Free Submissions to the Stacy Doris Memorial Poetry Award.

Fee: $0; Award: $500 & publication; Deadline: Jan 15.

Minimum 3 pages; maximum 10 pages. Maximum 1 poem per author. Poems submitted for the award will also be considered for publication in Fourteen Hills.


Free Submissions to the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize for Latinx Poets.

Fee: $0; Award: $1,000 & publication; Deadline: Jan 15.

Supports the publication of a first full-length book of poems by a Latinx poet. The winning poet will receive a contract from University of Notre Dame Press. Upon publication of the winning book, Letras Latinas will extend an invitation to both the winner and the judge to give a joint reading at Notre Dame.


Free Submissions to the Rattle Neil Postman Award for Metaphor.

Fee: $0; Award: $1000; Deadline: Rolling.

The purpose for the award is to reward a given writer for his or her use of metaphor and to celebrate Postman’s work, and the typographical mind. Each year the editors will choose one poem from the four issues of Rattle printed during the previous year and all poems that were submitted to the magazine are applicable.


Fellowships & Residencies

Fee: $20; Location: Greensburg, PA; Deadline: Dec 22.

Week-long retreat held annually at the University of Pittsburgh. Black poets of African descent, ages 21+ are eligible. Study with a world-class faculty and join a community of peers. Some fellows hail from the spoken word tradition, others focus on the text. Some are formalists, others work at the cutting edge of experimentation.

Fee: $0; Award: $500; Deadline: Dec 31.

Two $500 fellowships are awarded, with no strings attached, to undocumented or formerly undocumented poets to help defray the cost of poetry-related submission fees. Submit up to 10 pages of poetry, cover letter with a bio and brief description of your current work. At least one of the two fellowships awarded will be given to LGBTQ undocumented poets.

Fee: $0; Location: Shanghai, China; Stipend: $1,000; Deadline: Jan 1.
The residency is 6-8 weeks long, and allows writers with an interest in China to deepen their understanding of this vital and fascinating place. Open to all writers of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, screenplays and dramatic prose. There are no nationality restrictions. Applicants should be over 21 years old at the time of application and be writing in English. 

Fee: $0; Location: San José, CA; Stipend: $10,000; Deadline: Jan 2.
One-year residency at San José State University. Fellows give one public reading each semester and must live in the Bay Area during the academic year. Submit project proposal, résumé/CV, 25 page writing sample, and three references.


Free Submissions to the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Residency Prize.

Fee: $0; Location: Chicago, IL; Stipend: $10,000; Opens: Jan 1.

Sponsors an emerging fiction writer under forty years old—with no major book publication—to spend three weeks in residence at lake Forest College campus in Chicago’s northern suburbs on the shore of Lake Michigan. Housing suite and campus meals provided. The final judge will be novelist and memoirist Lidi Yuknavitch.

Fee: $25; Location: Bronx, NYC; Deadline: Jan 15.

In order to help mentor the next generation of Asian American writers, Kundiman sponsors an annual Retreat in partnership with Fordham University. During the Retreat, nationally renowned Asian American poets and writers conduct Master Classes and manuscript consultations with fellows. Readings, writing circles and informal social gatherings are also scheduled.

Fee: $0; Location: Montpelier, VT; Stipend: varies; Deadline: Rolling.
Vermont College of Fine Arts is waiving the application fee for their residential MFA in Writing and Publishing for the GrubStreet community! Program is industry-facing with fieldwork and internships in publishing at the core of the immersive experience. 100% of students receive partial funding, and the Emerging Writers Scholarship includes full tuition plus housing. To get your application fee waived, email [email protected] and use the subject line GrubStreet.


Free application for the Olive B. O'Connor Fellowship in Creative Writing at Colgate University.

Fee: $0; Location: Hamilton, NY; Stipend: $40,500; Deadline: Feb 1.
Writers of nonfiction and fiction who have recently completed an MFA, MA, or Ph.D in creative writing, and who need a year to complete their first book. Teach one creative writing course each semester and give a public reading from the work in progress. The fellowship includes travel expenses; health and life insurance are provided. 


Fee: $0; Location: Altoona, PA; Stipend: $10,000; Deadline: Mar 19.
One-semester teaching residency, targeted at early-career writers, preferably without a published book. Offers an emerging writer substantial time to write in return for teaching one general education level introduction to creative writing workshop during the Fall 2018 semester.


General Submissions

Fee: $0; Honorarium: $20-$50; Deadline: Dec 31.
Literary fiction up to 8,000 words.
Fee: $0; Honorarium: $1,000 for fiction & $400 per poem; Deadline: Dec 31.
Committed to publishing work exclusively by immigrant and refugee authors. Fiction up to 8,000 words. Non-fiction up to 6,000 words. Up to three poems no more than forty lines long.

Free Submissions to the Nat Brut Invisible Weight Folio: Writing & Art from Neurodivergent Womxn & Femmes of Color

Fee: $0; Deadline: Jan 7.

Poetry, short fiction, essays, & art by neurodivergent womxn & femmes of color. To submit or pitch visual work, email [email protected].

Fee: $0; Honorarium: $50-$150; Deadline: Jan 31.
Room magazine invites women and genderqueer folks who identify as part of the LGBTTQIA+ spectrum to submit their best poetry, fiction, CNF, and art to our first queer-themed issue. We especially encourage submissions from writers affected by multiple intersections of oppression, such as racism, classism, ableism, fatphobia, ageism, and transphobia. 
Fee: $0; Deadline: Rolling.
The Black Voices Series believes that to fight cultural silencing and erasure there needs to be more spaces that provide visibility for black-authored work. Poems, essays, fiction, and multi-modal work. 

Fee: $0; Deadline: Rolling.
Short stories, investigative reporting, reviews, essay and memoirs, flash fiction, poetry, journalism, short documentary film, and visual arts. Offer editor feedback for small fee. 
Fee: $0; Deadline: Rolling.
Submit up to three poems, three prose pieces, and three pieces of visual art at a time. Previously published works accepted, but you must own all rights.


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About the Author

Colwill is an instructor and manuscript consultant at GrubStreet, an associate editor at Bat City Review, and an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduating a scholarship awardee of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator program, Colwill found representation for her first novel, Before We Tear Our Selves Apart, with Robert Guinsler of Sterling Lord Literistic, which is currently on submission to publishing houses. She is the recipient of the Wellspring House Emerging Writer Fellowship, the Henry Blackwell Essay Prize, and a Crawley-Garwood Research Grant, and has received fellowships and support from Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The University of Texas at Austin, Boston College, Kansas State University, the Anderson Center for Disciplinary Studies, and GrubStreet. She was a finalist for the 2019 Tennessee Williams Fiction Prize, the 2019 Reynolds Price Award, the 2019 Far Horizons Fiction Award, the 2019 Disquiet International Literary Prize, and the 2019 Lit Fest Emerging Writer Fellowship. Colwill’s fiction is forthcoming in Granta and is anthologized in Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet (Press 53). She has served on the editorial team for Post Road magazine, The Conium Review,  Solstice Literary Magazine, and Pangyrus magazine. Colwill is a founding member of the  Back Porch Collective, a Boston-based group of writers. With members connected to Cuba, India, Albania, Atlanta, Bosnia, Miami, Jamaica, and the UK, they bonded over a common passion for global narratives and literature’s potential to create empathy and understanding across all geographical, political, and cultural borders. Hailing from Yorkshire, in the north of England, Colwill is determined to introduce the word “sozzard” to the American vernacular. For a full list of publications, projects, and services, please visit

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