The Terrain.org 9th Annual Contest in Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction submission period is now closed. Notifications will be made in November 2018. Check back in January for submission details on the 10th Annual Contest.
We accept contest submissions from January 1 to Labor Day. The deadline for our 10th Annual Contests in Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction will be September 2, 2019, for publication in late 2019 or early 2020. All notifications will be made in November 2019.
The contest submission period for our 10th Annual Contest is January 1 to September 2, 2019 at 11:59 p.m. Winners will be announced no later than the end of November 2019.
A prize of $500 plus publication for the first-place winner will be awarded in each genre. Finalists in each genre will also receive publication and a small monetary prize.
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.
Judges (9th Annual Contest)
- Jane Hirshfield (poetry)
- Elizabeth Dodd (nonfiction)
- Daniel Orozco (fiction)
All contestants will be notified of the judges’ decisions in November 2019.
How to Submit
Our contest submission period is open until September 2, 2019 at 11:59 p.m.
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 Submissions can be withdrawn through the submission system, though in that case contest entry fees will not be refunded. Individual components of submissions (i.e., a single poem in a poem set) may be withdrawn by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The cost to submit is $15 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 $15/entry) in any or all genres:
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.
Submit one story, up to 5,000 words total, per entry. Stories must contain only the story title and story itself without the author name or contact information.
Submit one essay or article, up to 5,000 words total, per entry. Essays must contain only the essay title and essay itself without the author name or contact information. We will consider all nonfiction, but are most interested in creative nonfiction, including personal essays, lyric essays, memoir, literary journalism, and other literary forms.
Cover Letter Required
Each submission must include a cover letter with the author’s name and contact information — including email, telephone, and mailing address — and the name(s) of the poem(s), story, and/or essay. The cover letter must be the first page of the submission document. It is the only portion of the submission that may contain name or contact information.
The Submission Process
- The submission period for our 9th Annual Contests in Poetry, Nonfiction, and Fiction is now closed. The submission period for our 10th Annual Contests closes at 11:59 p.m. on September 2, 2019.
- Please save your cover letter and submission for each entry as a single document — .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .txt, or .pages only. Do not submit in .pdf format.
- Submit online at https://sub.terrain.org. If you have submitted to Terrain.org before, log in to submit. If you have not submitted before, you must register.
- Choose the Contest – Fiction, Contest – Nonfiction, or Contest – Poetry genre category. Double-check that you have selected the appropriate contest genre; they are the last options during the regular submission period (and the only options during the summer).
- Once you confirm your submission, you will be directed to a page with payment instructions (via Paypal). Instructions for mailing a check in lieu of paying online are also provided. Checks and delayed online payments must be received by September 10.
- No submission will be considered until payment has been received.
- You will receive submission and payment confirmation via email.
Note: Our submission period is now closed. Submit for the 10th Annual Contests beginning in January 2019. Thank you.
Ready to submit for the contest? Submit online now:
Thanks very much, and we look forward to reviewing your contest submission!
9th Annual Contest Winners
Judged by Jane Hirshfield
Judged by Elizabeth Dodd
Judged by Daniel Orozco
8th Annual Contest Winners
Two Poems by Edward Harkness
Judged by Robert Wrigley
“Ghost Trees” by Jennie Goode
Judged by Nicole Walker
“N-Place Exiting” by Thomas Ausa
Judged by Padma Viswanathan
7th Annual Contest Winners
One Poem in Four Parts by William Wright
Judged by Eamonn Grennan
“Varya’s Black Suede Shoes” by Peter Justin Newall
Judged by Kate Bernheimer
“Geography of the Self” by Catherine Mauk
Judged by Lauret Savoy
6th Annual Contest
G. L. Grey for Four Poems
Judged by Pattiann Rogers
William Cass for “Contrition”
Judged by Luis Alberto Urrea
Lawrence Lenhart for “Of No Ground: Late Days in the Country of Eighteen Tides”
Judged by Scott Russell Sanders
5th Annual Contest Winners
Anne Haven McDonnell
“The Underworld is Alive” and “Emerging View”
Judged by Derek Sheffield
“The Library of Ice”
Judged by Julian Hoffman
4th Annual Contest Winners
Issue No. 34 : Elemental
“Seven Pages from The Book of Sharks“
Judged by John Daniel
“The Water Cycle”
Judged by Teague Bohlen
Judged by Kathryn Miles
3rd Annual Contest Winners
Issue No. 31 : Ruin and Renewal
For her poem set “[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
For her essay “Love and Industry: A Midwestern Workbook”
Judged by Christopher Cokinos
Courtney Amber Kilian
For her story “Color Has History”
Judged by Skip Horack
2nd Annual Contest Winners
Issue No. 28 : Image
Rebecca Dunham : “Morning: Joplin, MO” with Audio
Judged by Alison Hawthorne Deming
Julian Hoffman : “Faith in a Forgotten Place” with Audio and Image Gallery
Judged by Elizabeth Dodd
GE Tallant : “Song of the Turkey Vulture” with Audio
Judged by Andrew Wingfield
Inaugural Contest Winners
Issue No. 26 : The Signal in the Noise
Laura-Gray Street : “Goya’s Dog” with Audio
Judged by Jessie Lendennie
Elizabeth Dodd : “Sinuous”
Judged by David Rothenberg
Andrew Wingfield : “Right of Way”
Judged by Aurelie Sheehan
Note that we reserve the right to reduce or cancel the contest (and refund entry fees) if we do not receive enough submissions.
For further information or assistance, please contact us.