September Top Picks: Opportunities for Writers

The September 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 taking that idyllic shot of your apple picking excursion to prove to your Insta followers that you do occasionally leave the house. That matters too.





Contests & Awards


Fee: $0; Award: $3,000 & publication; Deadline: Sept 15.
Submit creative work on the visual arts. Must have been written or published within the last year. There will be one first place prize of $3,000 and two runners-up awarded $1,000 each.


$ New England Magazine The New Guard Machigonne Fiction Contest.
Fee: $22; Award: $1,500 & publication; Deadline: Sept 24.
Submit up to 5,000 words: anything from flash to the long story. The New Guard does not accept novel excerpts. Judge: Rick Moody.


Fee: $22; Award: $1,500 and publication; Deadline: Sept 24.
Submit up to three poems per entry; up to 150 lines per poem. Judge: Patricia Smith.


$ The University of Massachusetts Press Juniper Prizes.
Fee: $30; Award: $1,000 and publication; Deadline: Sept 30.
Submit a first poetry collection, a poetry collection, a short story collection, a novella or novel, and an essay collection.


$ Cave Canem Foundation Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize.
Fee: $12; Award: $500, publication, residency; Deadline: Sept 30.
Awarded annually for a poetry chapbook by a black poet. The winner will receive $500, publication by Jai-Alai Books, a weeklong residency at the Writer's Room at the Betsy Hotel in Miami, Florida, and will give a reading at the O, Miami Poetry Festival in April 2019.


$ Boston Review Aura Estrada Short Story Contest.
Fee: $20; Award: $1,500; Deadline: Oct 1.
Alexander Chee will judge. Submit a story of up to 5,000 words. Entry fee includes a copy of Boston Review's 2018 special literary supplement, Evil Empire.


Fellowships & Residencies


Fee: $0; Award: $5,000 and residency; Deadline: Sept 12.
Fellowships and residency time (with benefits) at the Millay Colony for the Arts in Austerlitz, New York, will be given annually to Asian American, Arab, and Muslim poets, fiction writers, and nonfiction writers under the age of thirty who reside in New York City.


Fee: $0; Award: $77,500 and residency; Deadline: Sept 13.
Fellowships, office space at the Radcliffe Institute and access to the libraries at Harvard University are given annually to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers to allow them to pursue creative projects. Fellows are expected to reside in Boston during the fellowship period, which lasts from September through May.


Fee: $40; Award: $1,500 and residency; Deadline: Sept 15.
One-month residency in Lynchburg, VA for American writers of African descent.


Fee: $0; Award: $50,000; Deadline: Sept 17.
Fellowships are awarded annually to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers on the basis of achievement and exceptional promise. Citizens and permanent residents of the United States and Canada with a significant and appropriate record of publication are eligible.


Free applications to the New York Public Library Cullman Center Fellowships.
Fee: $0; Award: $70,000; Deadline: Sept 28.
Up to fifteen fellowships are given annually to poets, fiction writers, and creative nonfiction writers whose work will benefit directly from access to the research collections at the New York Public Library. The Fellowships run from September 2019 through May 2020.


Free application to fellowships at the American Academy in Berlin.
Fee: $0; Award: $5,000 and residency; Deadline: Oct 5.
Residential fellowships are given annually to fiction writers and creative nonfiction writers to spend an academic semester in residence at the Hans Arnhold Center at the American Academy in Berlin. Fellows receive a $5,000 monthly stipend, lodging, partial board, and round-trip airfare.


General Submissions


Free submissions to Homonym Journal.
Fee: $0; Award: publication; Deadline: Sept 15.
Submit all formats of work that grapple with translation, multilingualism, and the blurred lines between languages and in communication.


Free submissions to Red Hen's New Moons: Contemporary Writing by North American Muslims.
Fee: $0; Award: publication; Deadline: Sept 15.
We are seeking submissions on any subject in all genres of creative writing, including fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction and cross-genre work, by North American Muslims for publication in an anthology.


Fee: $0; Award: publication; Deadline: Sept 30.
Submit English-language Asian-themed poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, photography, and art.


Free submissions to Winter Tangerine's DISPATCHES FROM THE STARS.
Fee: $0; Award: cash payment; Deadline: Sept 30.
This feature welcomes submissions by all undocumented, noncitizen, and/or first-generation immigrants of color who have stories about struggling with obtaining documentation or have otherwise experienced violence under the U.S. immigration system.


Free submissions to Territory's Issue X—Extremes.
Fee: $0; Award: publication; Deadline: Oct 1.
Submit works of literature, illustration, music, and other art that relate to maps and their complexities.



About the Author

As Editor of GrubWrites, GrubStreet's popular blog, Colwill serves the Grub community a daily dose of literary goodness. Book lovers can find reviews, news, recommendations, and conversations with exciting new authors to stay up to speed on all things lit. Writers, GrubWrites is your go-to spot for expert craft talk, thoughtful discussions on how writing is learned and taught, and essential publishing and publicity advice. Colwill is also a GrubStreet instructor and consultant specializing in the novel.


Colwill is Writer-in-Residence at Wellspring House, and a recipient of the work-study scholarship for the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and the Henry Blackwell Essay Prize. She was named a finalist for the 2019 Tennessee Williams Fiction Prize, and  her creative work has appeared or is forthcoming in Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet (Press 53), Solstice Literary Magazine, The Conium Review, Poetry and Audience, and other places, and her essays have featured on Dead Darlings and elsewhere. She's served on the editorial team for Post Road magazine and The Conium Review and is currently Fiction Editor at Pangyrus magazine. A scholarship awardee for GrubStreet's Novel Incubator, after graduating from the program Colwill found representation for her first novel with literary agent Robert Guinsler of Sterling Lord Literistic. She was educated at Leeds University in England, where she received her BA hons in English Language and Literature (International), with stints at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and Kansas State University’s Graduate Creative Writing Program, where she was awarded the Seaton Graduate Fellowship in Creative Writing. Most recently, Colwill completed a Master's degree in English Literature at Boston College, for which she was awarded a full scholarship. Hailing from Yorkshire, England, her life's mission is to introduce the word "sozzard" to the American vernacular. For a full list of publications, projects, and other services, including copy editing, please visit

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