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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During the current application cycle, which is open through August 4, 2023, fiction writers may submit published, unpublished, or works-in-progress created since January 2016 for consideration.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 southarts.org.

Jason Rapp

2020 S.C. Novel Prize goes to Upstate writer

Winning manuscript publishes in 2021

The South Carolina Arts Commission, Hub City Press, the College of Charleston, the South Carolina State Library,  and South Carolina Humanities are pleased to announce that the winner of the 2020 South Carolina Novel Prize is Maris Lawyer for her manuscript The Blue Line Down.  

Lawyer’s winning manuscript will be published in 2021 by Hub City Press of Spartanburg.

Maris Lawyer (right) grew up in Oconee County and hasn’t strayed far since. Graduating with a degree in Creative Writing from Anderson University in 2017, she then moved into a tiny apartment in Greenville with her husband, where she spent her evenings hunched over a laptop writing stories. Maris and her husband (and two cats) are now homeowners in Easley, where she still catches a glimpse of the Blue Ridge Mountains every day.

Stephanie Powell Watts, author of We Are Taking Only What We Need and No One is Coming to Save Us was the judge of the biennial prize this year. Of the winning manuscript, Watts wrote, “Readers are always looking for the topic that both feels familiar until we scratch the surface a little and realize we know almost nothing about it. In the clear light of the present, movements, protests and even revolutions of the past can seem obvious and inevitable. History loves to condense the story, connecting dots to make the narrative cohere. However, there is turmoil, angst, and great human suffering in between those dots. This story shows us how a decent enough person might be compelled to aid and abet bullies and killers. The story also shows us the main character's remarkable path to possible redemption.”

The South Carolina Novel Prize is funded by the following partner organizations:

The South Carolina Arts Commission is the state agency charged with creating a thriving arts environment that benefits all South Carolinians, regardless of their location or circumstances.

Hub City Press was founded in Spartanburg, South Carolina in 1995 and since then has emerged as one of the South's premier independent presses.

The College of Charleston is home not only to a cadre of nationally and internationally recognized writing faculty, but also houses one of the country’s premiere literary journals, Crazyhorse, published since 1960 and consistently ranked as among the top publishing venues in the nation. The Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program provides students an immersion in a world of prose and poetry and the practical aspects of establishing a career in the arts.

The South Carolina State Library develops, supports, and sustains a thriving statewide community of learners committed to making South Carolina stronger. The Library serves the people of South Carolina by supporting state government and libraries to provide opportunities for learning in a changing environment.

South Carolina Humanities is the state program of the National Endowment for the Humanities. SC Humanities presents and supports literary initiatives, lectures, exhibits, festivals, publications, oral history projects, videos and other humanities-based experiences that directly or indirectly reach more than 250,000 citizens annually.

For more information about the Novel Competition, visit or call http://www.SouthCarolinaArts.com, 803.734.8696; and http://www.hubcity.org, 864.577.9349.

More about Maris Lawyer

Maris Lawyer is a born and bred native of the South Carolina Upstate. She graduated with a degree in creative writing from Anderson University and has since gone to work as an HR generalist for an environmental consulting firm in Greenville. Maris lives in Easley with her husband Benjamin and two cats, Merlin and Luna. Alongside reading and writing, Maris spends much of her time fussing over the vegetable garden in her back yard. In The Blue Line Down, protagonist Jude Washer leaves his tormented childhood in the Virginian coal mines to join the Baldwin-Felts agents—the very agents who hunted down and disbanded the unionizers at his own mine camp. Instead of living a life of power and control, Jude finds himself disturbed by the brutal brand of justice dealt out by the Baldwin-Felts, and seeks to free himself and his young trainee, Harvey. An unplanned escape turns into a harrowing manhunt as Jude and Harvey flee the Baldwin-Felts, traveling down the Blue Ridge Mountains only to fall into the hands of bootleggers—who may present a greater threat than the Baldwin-Felts.

Submitted material

100 bucks for 100 words

New contest from Sunspot Literary Journal

Submission deadline: June 30, 2020
A contribution from Sunspot Literary Journal: Microfiction, micro essay, micro memoir, short poem, micro script, micro screenplay... if it's 100 words or less, it might be worth $100. No restrictions on theme or category. In addition to receiving the cash prize, the winner will be published. Select finalists will have the chance to be published. Sunspot asks for first rights only; all rights revert to the contributor after publication. Works accepted for publication include bylines and biographies. These are published in the next quarterly digital edition an average of one month after contest completion. All the published pieces will be considered for inclusion in the annual fall print edition. Enter as many times as you like. One piece per submission. Pieces must be unpublished except on a personal blog or website. Simultaneous submissions accepted. Work can have won other awards without being disqualified.

Cash award of $100 Entry fee: $5 Open April 1, 2020 Closes June 30, 2020

Link here to submit: https://sunspotlit.submittable.com/submit/164031/100-for-100-words-2020

Submitted material

Competition offers writers $7,000 in cash prizes

Flash fiction contest honors S.C. author, Nobel recipient Julia Peterkin

South 85 Journal is relaunching Converse College MFA program’s Julia Peterkin awards, starting with an all-new summer flash fiction contest. Like past awards, the contest will honor South Carolinian author Julia Peterkin, an 1896 graduate of Converse College. In 1929, she won the Pulitzer Prize for Novel/Literature for her novel Scarlet Sister Mary. The journal is accepting submissions for the Julia Peterkin Award for Flash Fiction through Aug. 15. It will announce winners in October. One winner will receive a cash prize of $500, and four runners-up will be named but receive no prize. All five stories will appear in the Fall / Winter 2018 issue of South 85 Journal, which will be released Dec. 15. South 85 Journal editors will review the submissions, and Converse College MFA faculty member Marlin Barton will make the final selections as the presiding judge of the contest. All submissions will be read blind. Submit your previously unpublished fiction of 850 words or less.  As always, South 85 Journal is especially interested in stories that demonstrate a strong voice and/or a sense of place, but the editors consider all quality writing. For more information or to submit, visit the contest page on Submittable here. South 85 Journal is a semi-annual online literary journal run by the Converse College Low-Residency MFA Program.  We publish fiction, non-fiction, poetry, reviews, and art by new, emerging, and well-established writers and artists. Visit our website at south85journal.com. If you would like additional information, contact Debby DeRosa at south85journal@gmail.com.

Submitted material

Deadline looming for S.C. Novel Prize submissions

Hi there, Palmetto State writers. Take the weekend to polish up those manuscripts, because the deadline to enter the S.C. Novel Prize is in just about two weeks! Submissions close March 15, 2018. South Carolina Novel Prize entries are submitted online through the Submittable system. The contest is highly competitive. Applicants’ works are reviewed anonymously by panelists who make their judgments on the basis of artistic merit. Six to eight novels will be judged by a nationally recognized judge to be announced at a later date. The winning author will receive a book contract with Hub City Press, an award-winning independent press in Spartanburg, S.C. Winner is awarded publication by Hub City Press in the form of a printing of no less than 2,000 copies to be nationally distributed to the trade in 2019. This can bring recognition that may open doors to other resources and opportunities in the literary community. Brock Adams of Spartanburg won the 2016 First Novel Prize. His novel, Ember, was published by Hub City Press in September 2017. Find complete eligibility requirements and application guidelines online. For more information, contact Sara June Goldstein, 803.734.8694.

Hub City Press announces $10,000 Short Story Book Prize

Hub City Press announces the establishment of the $10,000 C. Michael Curtis Short Story Book Prize, made possible by an anonymous contribution from a South Carolina donor. The contest includes book publication and will be judged in its first year by Lee K. Abbott, author of seven collections of short stories. Submissions open on August 1, 2017 and close January 1, 2018. The first winning book will be published in spring 2019. The new prize is open to emerging writers in 13 Southern states. Submitters must currently reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia or West Virginia, and must have no previously published books. Hub City Press Founder and Publisher Betsy Teter says of the new prize, “We are thrilled to announce one of the most substantial short story prizes in North America and to honor C. Michael Curtis, who has been a great friend to Hub City Press over the years.” The prize is named in honor of C. Michael Curtis, who has served as an editor of The Atlantic since 1963 and as fiction editor since 1982. Curtis has discovered or edited some of the finest short story writers of the modern era, including Tobias Wolff, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike, and Anne Beattie. He has edited several acclaimed anthologies, including Contemporary New England Stories, God: Stories, and Faith: Stories. Curtis moved to Spartanburg, S.C. in 2006 and has taught as a professor at both Wofford and Converse Colleges, in addition to serving on the editorial board of Hub City Press. Review the complete submission guidelines online. Founded in 1995 in Spartanburg, Hub City Press is an award-winning publisher committed to well-crafted and high-quality works by new and established authors from the American South. Its books are distributed to the trade by Publishers Group West.

S.C. State Library offers contest for young poets

Submissions are due March 3. As part of this year's May Hill Arbuthnot Lecture events, the South Carolina State Library is offering Young Minds Dreaming, a poetry contest for South Carolina students, including homeschool students, in grades 3-12. First, Second and Third Place winners will be selected for the following groups: Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, and Grades 9-12. Winners and their families will be invited to the State Library on April 1 to read their poems and meet Jacquline Woodson, this year's Arbuthnot Lecturer. Additionally, teachers who are able to verify all students in a class have submitted poetry, may use the verification form linked on the webpage for a chance to receive a classroom set of books. One set per age grouping will be made available. Submission deadline is March 3. Find details and submission guidelines online. For other questions, contact SCSL Learning Experiences Coordinator Pamela Hoppock at (803) 734-8646. Via: South Carolina State Library