South Arts announces Southern Prize, state fellowships for literary artists

APPLICATION DEADLINE: Friday, August 4, 2023 at 11:59 p.m. ET

South Arts announced this week it is launching a new series of programs to provide direct support to the literary arts community of the Southeastern U.S.

Now accepting applications, the Southern Prize and State Fellowships for Literary Arts centers critical support around writers among the region. The program aims to span the entirety of the literary arts field, annually awarding writers $80,000 in awards. This inaugural cycle will support fiction authors, with cycles in future years rotating through genres including drama/playwriting, poetry, creative nonfiction, and young adult fiction.

Modeled after South Arts’ flagship visual arts program—Southern Prize and State Fellowships for Visual Arts—this new literary arts fellowship program was created in acknowledgment of a discrepancy in regional funding for writers. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the annual wages of writers living and working among the Southeastern region have historically ranged 50% lower in comparison to that of the Northeast and Western regions.

Through this new program, South Arts is emphasizing the important role that these artists play in the wellbeing of a region’s culture—one that has inspired literary icons like Maya Angelou, Valerie Boyd, Judith Ortiz Cofer, William Faulkner, bell hooks, Zora Neale Hurston, Harper Lee, Kalamu Salaam, Celestine Sibley, David Sedaris, Natasha Tretheway, and Margaret Walker among many others.

During the current application cycle, which is open through August 4, 2023, fiction writers may submit published, unpublished, or works-in-progress created since January 2016 for consideration. A national jury will select nine State Fellows for Literary Arts—one per state in South Arts’ region—based on artistic excellence that reflects the diversity of the region. Each of the nine state fellowship winners will be awarded $5,000 and will compete for the Southern Prize for Literary Arts. A second jury will review the State Fellows to determine the Southern Prize winner, who will receive an additional $25,000, and a finalist who will receive an additional $10,000. Additionally, both Southern Prize awardees will receive a two-week residency at The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences.

The inaugural recipients of the Southern Prize & State Fellowship for Literary Arts are planned to be announced in early 2024.

The new program will feature annual cycles that will cover and serve writers across genres:

  • 2024: Fiction
  • 2025: Drama/Playwrighting
  • 2026: Poetry
  • 2027: Creative Non-Fiction
  • 2028: Young Adult Fiction

Guidelines for the Southern Prize & State Fellowship for Literary Arts are available here. In addition to it, South Arts will also begin offering dedicated funding programs for literary arts projects later this year and anticipates hosting convenings in the near future.

About South Arts

South Arts advances Southern vitality through the arts. The nonprofit regional arts organization was founded in 1975 to build on the South’s unique heritage and enhance the public value of the arts. South Arts’ work responds to the arts environment and cultural trends with a regional perspective. South Arts offers an annual portfolio of activities designed to support the success of artists and arts providers in the South, address the needs of Southern communities through impactful arts-based programs, and celebrate the excellence, innovation, value and power of the arts of the South. Since its establishment in 1975, South Arts has been dedicated to supporting the arts and cultural ecosystem of its nine-state region: Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. For more information on the Southern Prize and State Fellowships for Literary Arts or South Arts’ other programs, visit