Illinois Wesleyan University student poets and fiction writers are invited to enter annual competitions for the Academy of American Poets University Prize and the Babbitt’s Prize for Short Fiction. The prizes, administered by the English department, are open to all currently enrolled students. In previous years, non-English majors and minors have won frequently. Students may submit only one entry to each competition. All entries should be submitted to Julie Lappin, English department office coordinator, in the English department’s main office (first floor, English House) by 4 p.m., Friday, March 4.
To compete for the Babbitt’s Prize, students should submit up to 18 double-spaced pages of fiction—either a single short story or a segment from a novel that can stand alone. Any style is acceptable—even genre, if it breaks the mold—but judges will be looking for literary quality, energy, innovation, interesting plots, memorable characters, dialogue that rings true, fresh language, and a sure voice.
Founded in 1955, the Academy of American Poets University & College Poetry Prize program has launched the careers of many promising poets, including Sylvia Plath, Tess Gallagher, Mark Strand, and Joy Harjo. The winner from each school receives $100 and a certificate, and is announced in the Academy of American Poets’ publications and news releases, with a chance for publication in a future anthology.
The Babbitt’s Prize for Short Fiction (formerly the Clockwatch Review Prize for Short Fiction) began in 1997 as a way to promote and encourage aspiring fiction writers at IWU. The winner receives $50 cash and $50 store credit from Babbitt’s Books, downtown Normal.
Members of the English department faculty will serve as preliminary judges, with five manuscripts for each competition passed on to a final off-campus judge who’s an accomplished, published writer.