TW Contests

The Talking Writing Prize is an annual contest that celebrates the diversity online of original, personally driven writing.


TW 2015 Contest Winner: Elisabeth Weiss

We are delighted to announce the winner and finalists for the 2015 Talking Writing Prize for Hybrid Poetry. Contest judge Amy King selected Elisabeth Weiss's "The Anna Fragments" for the prize. As winner, Elisabeth will receive $1,000 and publication in an upcoming issue of Talking Writing.

Elisabeth, who teaches writing at Salem State University in Massachusetts, says "The Anna Fragments" is based on her maternal grandmother, Anna, and structured in nine parts "after Dante's Inferno." Of her grandmother and the hybrid format used to such haunting effect in the poem, Elisabeth notes:

Her life was many circles of hell. The poem was a way in to imagine how her life was shaped by her times. I added the preface as sidebar commentary and then definitions and explanations to enlarge and expand her story.... The combination of research, poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction mirrors Anna’s schizophrenic world but also tries, in many different ways, to give voice to a woman who was silenced.

Amy King also chose four finalists for this contest, and these selections will appear next year in Talking Writing: Two pieces from Erin Bertram's "Giving Yourself Over to It," Cynthia Neely's "Hopewell Bay"; Leah Shlachter's "American Bistro," and Amy Jo Trier-Walker's "The Red Shoes."

With more than a hundred entries, submissions for this contest were especially strong and wonderfully readable. In addition to the prizewinner and finalists, TW will publish a number of other hybrid entries in 2016.


General Contest Guidelines

Since its debut in 2010, Talking Writing has showcased personal essays and other endangered forms of literary and journalistic writing.

TW editors believe strongly in building a community that promotes literary culture all over the Web—and the world. TW features have been reprinted in Salon, Ebony, and the Huffington Post, among other online media sites. TW issues have featured interviews with Jennifer Egan, Robert Olen Butler, Terry Tempest Williams, Connie Willis, Andrew Lam, Mark Vonnegut, and many others. TW also publishes poetry, fiction, and the work of visual artists and photographers.

All contest submissions are reviewed by top TW editors and considered for publication in the magazine.

Submit all entries at The $15 fee for each entry offsets administrative costs and supports ongoing publication of TW.

Enter as many pieces as you like, although each entry requires a separate submission and contest fee. Simultaneous submissions are fine, too, as long as you notify us immediately if your piece is accepted elsewhere. We'll consider unpublished works only, and all entries must be in English.

Include only the title of your piece and page numbers on the first page and in the header. Author names, bios, and cover letters will not be seen by contest readers or judges until the winners have been selected.

Prizewinners receive a cash award and publication in Talking Writing


TW Contest Winner for 2015

Talking Writing Prize for Hybrid Poetry
Judge: Amy King
Winner: Elisabeth Weiss for "The Anna Fragments"

 TW Contest Winners for 2014

Talking Writing Prize for Flash Nonfiction
Judge: Dinty W. Moore
Winner: Stephen Brown for How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?

Talking Writing Prize for Advice Writing
Judge: Emily Toth
Winner: Ruth Carmel for Misdirection

TW Contest Winners for 2013

Talking Writing Prize for Flash Fiction
Judge: Joanne Avallon
Winner: Charlotte M. Porter for Deaf Uncle

Talking Writing Prize for Creative Nonfiction
Topic: Family Life
Judge: Lorraine Berry
Winner: Drew Ciccolo for Paige

TW Contest Winners for 2012

Talking Writing Prize for Short Fiction
Judge: David Cameron
Winner: David Meischen for Agua Dulce

Talking Writing Prize for Nature Writing
Judge: Steven Lewis
Winner: John Gredler for Glistening Scar


Small Print

By submitting a contest entry, you agree that if your piece is a prize winner or is selected for publication, Talking Writing, Inc., will acquire First North American serial rights, the right to put it or portions of it on the TW website, and the one-time, non-exclusive right to include it in a TW anthology, should there ever be one. All other rights are retained by the author.

You also warrant that your piece is an original work, is solely owned by you, and has not been previously published.

The public domain image here is from Guide to the Construction of Letters, created circa 1595 by Dutch artist Joris Hoefnagel. Digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program and via the Public Domain Review.


Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, Etc.
Specimens of Chromatic Wood Type, Borders, Etc.They appear via the Public Domain Review. 


Yes, certainly, the TW contests are open to non-Americans, as long as the pieces are in English. At TW, we're looking for great online writing, and we see such writing crossing all sorts of boundaries. Thanks for asking, Lucia.

Anne, thanks so much for checking in. Occasionally, we republish blog posts in Talking Writing. For the contest, however, they would be ineligible, since we'll request First North American serial rights for winning pieces.

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