Poets & Writers

FREE WRITING CONTESTS

FOR those looking to dip a toe into the deep waters of writing contests, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Every year we list hundreds of opportunities in the Grants & Awards section of this magazine, ranging from small local contests offering $500 for a single piece of writing to national book awards bestowing up to $50,000 to an author for a published book. The work of wading through the listings to determine which contest to submit to—and which charge entry fees you can realistically afford—can weigh you down.

So to make things easier, a bit more buoyant—something we all deserve to feel a bit more these days—we have curated a selection of writing contests and grant opportunities that charge no fee for entry or application. Some of the contests are for individual pieces, some are for fellowships, and many are for published books that may require the nomination of your publisher. All of these opportunities originally appeared in the Grants & Awards section of this magazine and have been vetted by our editorial staff as reliable—the kind of opportunity we might recommend to a friend.

We advise writers, as always, to send in your best work, follow the guidelines, and research each contest to ensure it’s an opportunity that you would be proud to win. After all, the contest might cost you nothing—but your writing represents your effort and time and deserves the best chance for its day in the sun.

12 Contests for Single Pieces of Work

AKO Caine Prize for African Writing

Genre: fiction

Given for: a short story published in the past five years by a writer who is African or who has a parent who is African by birth or nationality

Prize: £10,000 (approximately $13,750) for the winner, £500 (approximately $688) for each shortlisted writer

Number of awards: 1 winner, 5 shortlisted writers (including the winner)

Recent winners: Lesley Nneka Arimah, Irenosen Okojie, Makena Onjerika

Next/Typical deadline: January 31

Frequency: annual

caineprize.com

American-Scandinavian Foundation

Nadia Christensen Prize

Genre: translation (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction)

Given for: a selection of modern work translated from a Nordic language

Prize: $2,500, publication of an excerpt in Scandinavian Review

Number of awards: 1

Recent winners: Larissa Kyzer, Jennifer Russell, Sophia Hersi Smith, Kelsi Vanada

Next/Typical deadline: September 1

Frequency: annual

amscan.org

Leif and Inger Sjöberg Prize

Genre: translation (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction)

Given for: a selection of a modern work translated from a Nordic language by an unpublished translator

Prize: $2,000, publication of an excerpt in Scandinavian Review

Number of awards: 1

Recent winners: Alexandra Glynn, Sherilyn Hellberg, Olivia Lasky, Mie Mortensen

Next/Typical deadline: September 1

Frequency: annual

amscan.org

Brooklyn Film & Arts Festival

Brooklyn Nonfiction Prize

Genre: creative nonfiction

Given for: an essay set in Brooklyn, New York

Prize: $500, publication on the festival website

Number of awards: 1

Recent winners: Mark P. Cohen, Keith Haymes, Gregg Williard

Next/Typical deadline: December 10

Frequency: annual

filmbrooklyn.org

Brunel University London

International African Poetry

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