January Top Picks: Opportunities for Writers

The January 2018 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 penning moody self-portraits in the margins of your notebook. That matters too. 


Contests & Awards

$ 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.


Fee: $0; Award: $3,500; Deadline: Jan 31.
Stories up to 8,000 words. Winner considered for publication in the Chicago Tribune. Maximum of two entries.

Fee: $25; Award: Cash prize; Deadline: Jan 31.
Black writers who are full-time students in undergraduate and graduate programs, including low-res MFAs, at any university in the United States are eligible. Fiction or poetry. Must be enrolled at the time of submission. 


Fee: $0; Award: $1,500; Deadline: Feb 2.

The Waterman Fund invites emerging writers to submit personal essays between 2000 and 3000 words on the topic of wilderness and wildness. The runner-up essay will receive $500. Both will be published in online and in Appalachia. For the purposes of this contest, an emerging writer is considered someone who has a solid writing background or interest, but has not yet published a major work of prose on this topic or been featured in national publications.


Fellowships & Residencies

$ Submissions for the Writers Room of Boston Gish Jen Fellowship for Emerging Writers

Fee: $15; Location: Boston, MA; Award: 1 year membership; Deadline: Jan 15.
Special considerations for people of color, members of the LGBTQ community, older writers, and people with disabilities. Membership includes 24-hour access to a secure and light-filled writing workspace in downtown Boston.


$ Submissions for the VCCA  Steven Petrow LGBTQ Fellowship and the Alonzo Davis Endowment for Fellowships for writers of African or Latinx Descent.

Fee: $40; Location: Amhert, VA; Award: Two-week residency; Deadline: Jan 15.
The Steven Petrow LGBTQ Fellowship (est. 2016) is open to applicants working in all genres (creative writers, visual artists, and composers). The Alonzo Davis Endowment for Fellowships annually supports two fully-funded residencies of two weeks each for highly accomplished American visual artists, creative writers, and composers of African or Latinx descent. For this Fellowship, residencies are to take place between June 1, 2018 and May 31, 2019.
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.


Free application for the Philip Roth Residence at Bucknell University for poets.

Fee: $0; Location: Lewisburg, PA; Stipend: $5,000 & accomm; Deadline: Feb 1.
Offers up to four months of unfettered writing time for a writer working on a first or second book. In alternate years, the residency is awarded to poets and writers of prose (fiction or creative nonfiction). In 2018, it will be awarded to a poet.

Free application for the U.S.-Japan Creative Artists Fellowships.

Fee: $0; Location: Japan; Stipend: $20,000-$30,000; Deadline: Feb 1.
Minimum of three months. Artists are free to live anywhere in the country to pursue activities of greatest relevance to their creative process. Artists should have compelling reasons for wanting to work in Japan, and they should do preliminary research to identify contacts there. 

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; Deadline: Jan 15.
Particularly interested in work that grapples with the intersections of race, gender, disability, and sexuality in our current socio-political climate. LGBTQ women of color are strongly encouraged to submit. Please do not submit if you do not identify as a person of color. Prose up to 5,000 words or up to 3 poems.
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; Honorarium: $15-$50; Deadline: Feb 1.
Fiction and nonfiction up to 3,500 words, or up to five poems.
Fee: $0; Honorarium: $25-$200; Deadline: Feb 1.
Up to five poems (or fifteen pages). Mail only submissions.
Fee: $0; Honorarium: $5-$75; Deadline: Feb 8.
Mission is to publish the finest in speculative and imaginative fiction and poetry, with special attention to character-driven stories that examine the depths and heights of emotion and motivation from a broad variety of cultural and social perspectives. Flash and stories up to 10,000 words, or up to three poems.
Fee: $0; Deadline: Rolling.
A platform for woman-identified creators. Short stories up to 7,000 words, essays up to 5,000 words, and up to six poems, plus art, interviews, and reviews.
Fee: $0; Deadline: Rolling.
Screen Door Review is a quarterly literary magazine that publishes all types of poetry, short stories, flash fiction, and comics authored by individuals belonging to the southern queer (lgbtq) community of the United States. Short Stories up to 10,000 words, 1-3 flash narratives up to 1,000 words, 3-5 poems, or up to 8 pages of comic or graphic narratives.

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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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