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Contest Submission Guidelines

Now accepting poetry, nonfiction, and fiction contest submissions through September 5.

Now Open: Terrain.org 13th Annual Contest

More than $4,500 in prizes! $1,000 grand prize in each genre and $200 to finalists.

We accept contest submissions from May 1 to Labor Day. The deadline for our 13th Annual Contest is September 5, 2022 (Labor Day in the U.S.), for publication in February 2023.


Contest Details

Judges for 13th Annual Contest

Sean HillPoetry: Sean Hill
Sean Hill is the author of Dangerous Goods, awarded the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry, and Blood Ties & Brown Liquor, named one of the Ten Books All Georgians Should Read in 2015 by the Georgia Center for the Book. His numerous awards include fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, Stanford University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Hill’s poems and essays have appeared in Callaloo, Harvard Review, New England Review, Orion, Oxford American, Poetry, Terrain.org, Tin House, and numerous other journals, and in nearly two dozen anthologies including Black Nature and Villanelles. He lives in Montana with his family and is currently a visiting professor of creative writing at the University of Montana.

Janisse RayNonfiction: Janisse Ray
Janisse Ray is an American writer who explores the borderland of nature and culture. She has won an American Book Award, Pushcart Prize, Southern Bookseller Award, Southern Environmental Law Center Writing Award, Nautilus Award, and Eisenberg Award, among others; and has has been inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. Her first book, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, was a New York Times Notable Book. Her eighth book, Wild Spectacle: Seeking Wonders in a World Beyond Humans, was released in October 2021, with the paperback release set for August 2022. She lives and works inland from Savannah, Georgia.

Kali Fajardo-AnstineFiction: Kali Fajardo-Anstine
Kali Fajardo-Anstine is the author of the novel Woman of Light and the story collection Sabrina & Corina, a finalist for the National Book Award, the PEN/Bingham Prize, The Story Prize, and winner of an American Book Award. She is the 2021 recipient of the Metcalf Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and is the 2022/2023 Endowed Chair in Creative Writing at Texas State University. 

Submission Period

The contest submission period for our 13th Annual Contest is May 1, 2022 to 11:59 p.m. on September 5, 2022 (Labor Day in the U.S.). Winners will be announced in December 2022.

Prizes

A prize of $1,000 plus publication for the first-place winner will be awarded in each genre. Finalists in each genre will also receive publication and a $200 prize.

Selection Process

All submissions are considered for publication. Terrain.org’s editors will read all entries, passing the top entries in each genre to the judges, who will choose the first-place winners. Decisions of the judges are final. Judges and editors do not know the identity of the contestants.


How to Submit

You are not eligible to enter this contest if you are a current student of the contest judges or if you have been a winner in the contest in the last five years. Finalists are welcome to submit again.

Simultaneous submissions are acceptable, but previously published material in any format, including blogs, will not be considered. Submissions can be withdrawn through the submission system, though in that case contest entry fees will not be refunded. Individual components of submissions (i.e., a single poem in a poem set) may be withdrawn by sending a message through Submittable.

Cost

The cost to submit is $20 per story, essay or article, or set of 3-5 poems (or single long poem).

What to Submit

You may submit up to three entries (at $20/entry) in any or all genres:

Poetry
Submit 3-5 poems or one long poem (5+ pages) per entry. Combine all poems into a single document. For poetry, we are seeking not just the best poem, but the best set of 3-5 poems or the best long poem, with the hopes of awarding our prizes to poetry sets or long poems rather than individual, shorter poems, when possible. No maximum lines per poem. Poems must contain only the poem title(s) and poem(s) without the author name or contact information (including in the document header/footer).

Fiction
Submit one story, up to 5,000 words total, or up to three flash fictions (up to 1,000 words each) per entry. Stories must contain only the story title and story itself without the author name or contact information (including in the document header/footer).

Nonfiction
Submit one essay or article, up to 5,000 words total, or up to three flash essays (up to 1,000 words each) per entry. Essays must contain only the essay title and essay itself without the author name or contact information (including in the document header/footer). We will consider all nonfiction, but are most interested in creative nonfiction, including personal essays, lyric essays, memoir, literary journalism, and other literary forms.

The Submission Process

Submissions and payment for the 13th Annual Contest will be conducted on our Submittable site.

Submit Now!


Contest Winners

12th Annual Contest Winners

Poetry
Two Poems by Jennifer K. Sweeney
Judged by Ellen Bass

Nonfiction
“The Snake and the Sanctuary” by Melina Walling
Judged by Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Fiction
“The Frontier” by Sean Sam
Judged by Maurice Carlos Ruffin

11th Annual Contest Winners

Poetry
Five Science Poems by Susan Cohen
Judged by Arthur Sze

Nonfiction
“Notes on Building a Somewhat Bearable Space for Disbelief” by Kristina Moriconi
Judged by Julian Hoffman

Fiction
“Star, Fish” by Cameron Walker
Judged by Joy Castro


10th Annual Contest Winners

Poetry
“In the Forest,” “The Water, the Truth, the Water,” and “Grounded” by Stacey Balkun
Judged by Camille T. Dungy

Nonfiction
“Hysteresis” by Cara Stoddard
Judged by Alison Hawthorne Deming

Fiction
“The Night of the Day of the Dead” by Michael McGuire
Judged by Tara Lynn Masih


9th Annual Contest Winners

Poetry
“Tallow,” “Exhibit: ‘Song of Lost Species’,” and “armadillo” by Jane Lovell
Judged by Jane Hirshfield

Nonfiction
“The Violence of the Given World” by Sarah M. Wells
Judged by Elizabeth Dodd

Fiction
“Out of Good Ground” by John Thomson
Judged by Daniel Orozco


8th Annual Contest Winners

Poetry
Two Poems by Edward Harkness
Judged by Robert Wrigley

Nonfiction
“Ghost Trees” by Jennie Goode
Judged by Nicole Walker

Fiction
“N-Place Exiting” by Thomas Ausa
Judged by Padma Viswanathan


7th Annual Contest Winners

Poetry
One Poem in Four Parts by William Wright
Judged by Eamonn Grennan

Fiction
“Varya’s Black Suede Shoes” by Peter Justin Newall
Judged by Kate Bernheimer

Nonfiction
“Geography of the Self” by Catherine Mauk
Judged by Lauret Savoy


6th Annual Contest Winners

Theme: (Dis)placement

Poetry
Four Poems by G. L. Grey
Judged by Pattiann Rogers

Fiction
“Contrition” by William Cass
Judged by Luis Alberto Urrea

Nonfiction
“Of No Ground: Late Days in the Country of Eighteen Tides” by Lawrence Lenhart
Judged by Scott Russell Sanders


5th Annual Contest Winners

Poetry
Anne Haven McDonnell
“The Underworld is Alive” and “Emerging View”
Judged by Derek Sheffield

Nonfiction
Nancy Campbell
“The Library of Ice”
Judged by Julian Hoffman


4th Annual Contest Winners

Issue No. 34 : Elemental

Poetry
Rob Carney
“Seven Pages from The Book of Sharks
Judged by John Daniel

Fiction
Eloise Schultz
“The Water Cycle”
Judged by Teague Bohlen

Nonfiction
Nancy Geyer
“(Dis)Appearances”
Judged by Kathryn Miles


3rd Annual Contest Winners

Issue No. 31 : Ruin and Renewal

Poetry
Genevieve Leet
“[when I died they found a nest of snakes in my intestines, their backs]” and “Somewhere beyond the curve of the earth, there is a ceremonial bamboo boat”
Judged by Suzanne Frischkorn

Nonfiction
Sonya Huber
“Love and Industry: A Midwestern Workbook”
Judged by Christopher Cokinos

Fiction
Courtney Amber Kilian
“Color Has History”
Judged by Skip Horack


2nd Annual Contest Winners

Issue No. 28 : Image

Poetry
Rebecca Dunham : “Morning: Joplin, MO”
Judged by Alison Hawthorne Deming

Nonfiction
Julian Hoffman : “Faith in a Forgotten Place” + Image Gallery
Judged by Elizabeth Dodd

Fiction
GE Tallant : “Song of the Turkey Vulture”
Judged by Andrew Wingfield


Inaugural Contest Winners

Issue No. 26 : The Signal in the Noise

Poetry
Laura-Gray Street : “Goya’s Dog”
Judged by Jessie Lendennie

Nonfiction
Elizabeth Dodd : “Sinuous”
Judged by David Rothenberg

Fiction
Andrew Wingfield : “Right of Way”
Judged by Aurelie Sheehan


For further information or assistance, please contact us.

Terrain.org is the world’s first online journal of place, publishing a rich mix of literature, artwork, case studies, and more since 1997.