October Top Picks: Opportunities for Writers

Welcome to the October 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 insessantly second-guessing an almost definitely too hipster stock image on your website. That matters too. 

Contests & Awards

Free submission to the Jane Lumley Prize for Poetry.

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

Submit a maximum of eight unpublished poems (totaling not more than ten pages).

Fee: $25; 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. 


Fellowships & Residencies

Free application for a scholarship to GrubStreet's Muse & the Marketplace Conference.

Fee: $0; Location: Boston, MA; Award: Partial; Deadline: Oct 22.

Numerous partial and need-based scholarships, including general scholarships, writers of color scholarships, visiting writer scholarship, Lesley University Mani Iyer Scholarship for a Writer Living with a Disability, Literary Citizen Scholarship, and Non-Traditional Writer Scholarship.


Free application to the Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award.

Fee: $0; Location: Reykjavík, Iceland; Award: Full funding; Deadline: Oct 31.

The Iceland Writers Retreat Alumni Award offers talented writers in need of financial support an opportunity to attend the Iceland Writers Retreat in April 2018. 


Free application to the Boston Artist in Residence Program.

Fee: $0; Location: Boston, MA; Award: $25,000 & $10,000 project budget; Deadline: Nov 4.

In the program, artists, community members, and City employees work on projects that help reframe social conversations. These artists explore the ways they can use art and media to improve and bolster City initiatives. They also search for ways to make artistic social practice a part of government and community work.

Fee: $0; Location: Columbus, OH; Stipend: $5,000; Deadline: Nov 30.
four-week residency at the historic home of author, humorist, and New Yorker cartoonist James Thurber. The winner stays in a two-bedroom apartment at Thurber House and must be available for at least three community outreach opportunities. Fiction, or creative non-fiction, including memoir. Applicant must have had a book published by a traditional publisher within the last three years and have another work under contract or in progress.

General Submissions

Fee: $3; Deadline: Oct 31.
Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, Theater, Etcetera.
Fee: $0; Honorarium: $20; Deadline: Oct 31.
Creative Nonfiction submissions of up to 6,000 words and up to four poems. (Fees for fiction submissions are $3.)
Fee: $0; Deadline: Oct 31.
Creative Nonfiction, Fiction, Flash Prose (any genre), Literary Translation (and The Gabo Prize for Literature in Translation & Multilingual Texts), Poetry, Visual Art (painting, drawing, photography, printmaking, sculpture, installation, mixed-media, graphic narratives, and other 2D work), Writing for Young People (13+). Welcomes multilingual submissions in all genres.
Fee: $0; Deadline: Nov 1.
Guest edited by Amina Gautier. Submit to Phong Nguyen by email. 


Prose, Poetry, and visual art accepted until November 1. "Lineage of Mirrors" submissions accepted on a rolling basis.
Fee: $0; Honorarium: $500; Deadline: Nov 14.
Literary fiction, 3,000-8,000 words.

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.
Fee: $0; Honorarium: $85 for prose & $35 per poem; Deadline: Rolling.
Defines queer literature and arts as works created by LGBTTQI people, rather than works which feature queer content alone. Accepts literary fiction, creative non-fiction, poetry, reviews, interviews, and novel excerpts. Fiction and Nonfiction up to 5,000 words, poetry up to 10 pages. 
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. 


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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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