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Creative Nonfiction Contest

Evil and Joy and That Other Mushy Part In-Between: An Interview with Kiese Laymon

by Sarah Fawn Montgomery

The deadline for our Creative Nonfiction Essay Contest is August 1st. The winner will receive a prize of $250 and publication in our Spring 2017 issue. Read below to get a sense of what contest judge Kiese Laymon is looking for. Click here to submit.

Your recent essays address Mississippi House Bill 1523, the conversation surrounding Bill Cosby and sexual assault, the hopes you have for your daughter, Mississippi football, and the church shootings in Charleston. In one essay you write that you are “concerned about any and all things relating to my body, your body, our feelings, power, sexual history, sexual imagination and intimacy.” What drives these concerns? What sets an essay in motion? How or why does the genre facilitate these conversations?

Creative Nonfiction Contest Winner!

Melissa Febos
Congratulations to Melissa Febos, winner of Prairie Schooner's second annual Creative Nonfiction Contest! We received more than 500 excellent submissions, and contest judge Lia Purpura had this to say about Febos's winning essay, “Call My Name":

The Essay is Wildly Capacious

An Interview with Lia Purpura
Lia Purpura
The deadline for our second annual Creative Nonfiction Contest is fast approaching! We've already received many excellent submissions--get yours in by August 31! To inspire you, here's an interview with this year’s contest judge, Lia Purpura.

Creative Nonfiction Contest 2013: Submissions are Open!

"Cat Named Sobaka" by Josip Novakovich
Author Josip Novakovich
Creative Nonfiction Contest 2013: Submissions Are Open! By Alie Kloefkorn The day has come: submissions are open! We are posting one last essay to entertain you as you prepare your submission:“Cat Named Sobaka,” by Joseph Novakovich. It appeared in our Spring 2010 issue as well as Best American Essays 2011. It is a cat’s biography, what the author calls an “essay-fable.” We look forward to reading your submissions!

Creative Nonfiction Contest 2013: 4 Days Until Submissions Open!

"Fred Astaire's Hands" by Judith Kitchen
Author Judith Kitchen
For the past two weeks, we have posted essays published in previous issues, and will continue to do so until the contest deadline, May 2. Last week, we posted “Jicama, without Expectations,” by Maxine Kumin. This week, the essay is Judith Kitchen’s “Fred Astaire’s Hands,” published in the Fall 1997 issue, in which Kitchen chronicles a road trip intertwined with thoughts on mortality and sense of self.

Creative Nonfiction Contest 2013: A New Week, a New Post!

Jicama, without Expectation: an Essay by Maxine Kumin
Photo of Maxine Kumin

Just a reminder that May 2 marks the opening of the submission period for Prairie Schooner’s Creative Nonfiction Contest! Last week, we posted Alberto Alvaro Ríos’ essay, “Translating the Translation: Finding the Beginning.” This week, we are posting “Jicama, without Expectation” by Maxine Kumin, published in the Spring 1994 issue, in which Kumin explores the significance of cultivating a garden.

Creative Non-Fiction Contest 2013: Let the Countdown Begin!

Translating Translations: an essay by Alberto Alvaroz Rios
Picture of Rios
Translating Translations: an essay by Alberto Alvaroz Rios

"I just want to be in love with everything."

An Interview with CNF Contest Winner Natlie Vestin

Former Blog Editor Claire Harlan Orsi interviewed CNF Contest Winner Natalie Vestin on her essay, "How To Own a Building" in November 2012.

Natalie Vestin, a writer and health researcher based in St. Paul, won Prairie Schooner's first Creative Nonfiction Contest. We're re-releasing this interview as a preview to her essay, which appears in the Spring 2013 Issue of Prairie Schooner.


This essay goes so many different places, literally and metaphorically: Minnesota, Hiroshima, Hamburg, New York City; anecdotes and abstract reflections, past and present meditations. I’m curious about your composition process. Did you know you were going to bring together these disparate elements in the way you did? From where did the form of the essay emerge?

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