Submit to Boston Review’s (Free) 2019 Short Story & Poetry Contests Worth $1000 in Total

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The US-based magazine Boston Review has announced short story and poetry contests, each worth $500, both based on “a new contest model shaped by social justice and accessibility concerns.” The magazine, among whose editors is Junot Diaz, is most noted in the African literary scene for having published “Hitting Budapest,” the short story by NoViolet Bulawayo which received the 2011 Caine Prize and became the opening chapter of her Booker Prize-shortlisted novel We Need New Names. The magazine, as noted by James Murua, was founded in 1975.

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The Aura Estrada Short Story Contest will be judged by the Kenyan novelist Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, while their Annual Poetry Contest will be judged by the Somali poet Ladan Osman. Both have the same theme: “Allies.” Interestingly, the magazine’s new model ensures that entrants for the prizes who live outside the US, Canada, and Western Europe are exempted from the $20 submission fee.

ABOUT THE THEME

ALLIES

How do we know who is on our side? Is it possible for someone who is not like us to share our same hopes? Can links forged by empathy or mutual interest match those created by shared experience? What can we gain from alliances that we cannot achieve on our own?

These are difficult question to answer even in intimate settings, and more so in arenas of cultural and political struggle. We want the sharpest stories about trust, bridge-building, difference, and betrayal. Drawing on the prophetic power of the imagination to conjure both the possible dangers and life-giving possibilities of alliances—be they political, private (such as marriage), therapeutic, or even aesthetic (between readers and writers, for example). We are open to this theme being explored in every genre, including historical fiction, scifi, horror, mystery, and romance. We’re especially interested to see these themes explored in the context of race, sex and sexuality, and identity (both politically and privately).

Here are the details for both contests.:

Aura Estrada Short Story Contest 

Deadline: June 30, 2019
Judge: Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
First Prize: $500 and publication

Complete guidelines: 

  • All entries must be related to this year’s theme of allies. We want the theme to be very broadly interpreted, but we also shouldn’t have to guess at the connection between the theme and your entry.
  • The winning author will receive $500 and have their work published in Boston Review‘s special literary issue Allies. Numerous runners-up will also be published in the issue.
  • Stories must not exceed 5,000 words and must be previously unpublished. No cover note is necessary for online submission. Names should not appear on the stories themselves. All entries much be in English; translations are acceptable if they are done in collaboration with the author and the story is unpublished in any language.
  • Simultaneous submissions are not permitted; if you submit your story to another publication, you must withdraw it via Submittable.
  • Submissions may not be modified after entry.
  • Contest entrants cannot have a personal or professional relationship with this year’s judge, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, or with any editors or staff at Boston Review.
  • Make sure your address in Submittable is correct, as this is the address where your free copy of Allieswill be sent in the fall of 2019.

Entries are accepted exclusively through Submittable. Please make sure to select the correct form, paid or free, depending on your circumstances.

Click here to submit

About the Judge

Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor was born in Nairobi, Kenya. Winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing (2003) for her novella, “Weight of Whispers,” she is the author of the novel Dust (2013, Knopf), which was shortlisted for the Folio Prize and won the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature in Kenya (2017), and The Dragonfly Sea (2019, Knopf). She has twice been a fellow at the Iowa International Writers’ Program and guest lectured (Creative Writing) at Grinnell College (Iowa). Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s and other publications. She has been a speaker at TEDx Nairobi and Euston and is, at present, in residence at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Germany where she is working on a new story.

Annual Poetry Contest

Deadline: June 30, 2019
Judge: Ladan Osman
First Prize: $500 and publication

Complete guidelines:
  • All entries must be related to this year’s theme of allies. We want the theme to be very broadly interpreted, but we also shouldn’t have to guess at the connection between the theme and your entry.
  • The winning author will receive $500 and have their work published in Boston Review‘s special literary issue Allies. Numerous runners-up will also be published in the issue.
  • Send us up to 5 poems or 10 pages, which comes first. All work must be previously unpublished. No cover note is necessary, and names should not appear anywhere in the submission. All entries much be in English; translations are acceptable if they are done in collaboration with the author and the poems are unpublished in any language.
  • Simultaneous submissions are not permitted; if you submit your poems to another publication, you must withdraw it via Submittable.
  • Submissions may not be modified after entry.
  • Contest entrants cannot have a personal or professional relationship with this year’s judge, Ladan Osman, or with any editors or staff at Boston Review.
  • Make sure your address in Submittable is correct, as this is the address where your free copy of Allies will be sent in the fall of 2019.
  • Entries are accepted exclusively through Submittable. Please make sure to select the correct form, paid or free, depending on your circumstances:

Click here to submit

About the Judge

Ladan Osman is the author of Exiles of Eden (2019) and The Kitchen-Dweller’s Testimony (2015). Her writing and photographs have recently appeared in World Literature Today and The Kenyon Review. She lives in Brooklyn.

Read previous years’ winning short stories and poems HERE.

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