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Contest Submission Guidelines

Our 11th Annual Contest submission period is now closed. We will accept submissions for the 12th Annual Contest beginning February 1, 2021.

Now Closed: Terrain.org 11th Annual Contest

We accept contest submissions from February 1 to Labor Day. The deadline for our 11th Annual Contest was September 7, 2020 (Labor Day in the U.S.), for publication in January or February 2021. We will begin accepting contest submissions for our 12th Annual Contest on February 1, 2021.


Contest Details

Judges (11th Annual Contest)

Poetry: Arthur Sze
Arthur Sze’s tenth book of poetry, Sight Lines (Copper Canyon) won the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry.

Nonfiction: Julian Hoffman
Julian Hoffman is the award-winning author of Irreplaceable: The Fight to Save Our Wild Places and The Small Heart of Things.

Fiction: Joy Castro
Author of the literary thrillers Hell or High Water and Nearer Home and the short story collection How Winter Began, Joy Castro teaches literature, creative writing, and Latinx studies at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.

Submission Period

The contest submission period for our 11th Annual Contest was February 1 to September 7, 2020 (Labor Day in the U.S.). Winners will be announced no later than December 2020.

Prizes

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 $100 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

Our contest submission period was open until September 7, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time.

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 Submissions can be withdrawn through the submission system, though in that case contest entry fees will not be refunded (however, if you withdraw before the submission period ends you may submit another entry without paying again). Individual components of submissions (i.e., a single poem in a poem set) may be withdrawn by emailing info@terrain.org.

Cost

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:

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.

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(ies), and/or essay(s). 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. Do not put your name or other contact information in the document header/footer.

The Submission Process

  1. The submission period for our 11th Annual Contests closed at 11:59 p.m. on September 7, 2020.
  2. Please save your cover letter and submission for each entry as a single document: .doc, .docx, .rtf, or .txt only. Do not submit in .pdf format.
  3. Submit online.
  4. 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).
  5. 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 21.
  6. No submission will be considered until payment has been received.
  7. You will receive submission and payment confirmation via email.

 

Contest Winners

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
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

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

Fiction
Courtney Amber Kilian
For her story “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


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.

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