08 February 2013

Beat Your Words into Ploughshares' Writing Contest

The editors of Ploughshares magazine have announced they are accepting poetry, prose, and non-fiction submissions to an annual "Emerging Writer's Contest" until Apr. 2, 2013.

While the contest is not specially targeted at military writers, one would hope that some soldier-writer could beat their warrior words into ... well, you know the well-worn phrase to which we refer.

There is a $1,000 prize in each category. Affiliated with Emerson College in Boston, Mass., Ploughshares is published in April, August, and December. Winners are notified in the fall, and their works appear in the winter issue. The contest began in 2011. Click for a short history of the literary magazine. Or, if you prefer, here is a longer one.

The contest defines "emerging writer" as "someone who has yet to publish a book, including chapbooks, eBooks, and self-published works, in any of the content genres: creative nonfiction, poetry, or fiction. No book should be forthcoming before April 15th, 2014, the date when the Winter issue will be off the stands." Persons with current affiliations with Emerson College should also not submit.

Further contest rules include:
  • Submitted work must be original and previously unpublished in any form.
  • Fiction and non-fiction entries should be under 6,000 words.
  • Poetry entries should contain 3-5 pages of poetry. For poetry, editors will be reading both for the strongest individual poem and the general level of work, and may choose to publish only some of the winner's submitted poems.
  • Writers are allowed to submit only one entry to the contest, per year.
A list and samples of past winners is available here. Still other selections offer further sense of Ploughshare's editorial spirit and character. The publication's pedigree is both varied and vaunted:
Each issue is guest-edited by a prominent writer who explores personal visions, aesthetics, and literary circles. Over the years, guest editors of Ploughshares have included Seamus Heaney, Derek Walcott, Rosellen Brown, Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff, Sherman Alexie, Russell Banks, Lorrie Moore, Yusef Komunyakaa, and Richard Ford. Guest editors have been the recipients of Nobel and Pulitzer prizes, National Book Awards, MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships, and numerous other honors.
Past issues of the magazine, such as the Fall 2012 issue, are available on Amazon Kindle format. The $24 contest entry fee includes options for either a one-year print or online subscription.

Submissions must be made through the magazine's designated web-based portal. E-mail and hardcopy submissions are not accepted.

You can submit to the contest here, and sign up for news alerts and notices here.


Note: This Red Bull Rising blog-post about military writing is sponsored by the Red Earth MFA program at Oklahoma City University. This Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program requires 10-day residencies twice a year, in January and July. The program encourages explorations in all forms of creative non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and literary and genre fiction. The program has been approved for post-9/11 G.I. Bill funding, and Oklahoma City University appears on Victory Media's 2013 list of Military Friendly Schools.

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