Each year Drake University’s English Department presents two awards: the Emerging Writer Award, for a published book, and the Payton Prize, for an unpublished essay. Please read the details below:
The Emerging Writer Award
The Susan Glaspell Writers & Critics Series at Drake University is accepts submissions each May-September for its annual Drake Emerging Writer Award. The faculty and students of Drake University’s English Department select one outstanding first book from among the entries: the author receives an honorarium of $1000 plus travel and lodging expenses to read at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa.
Each year, the award rotates among genres (fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and graphic forms). To qualify, a book must have a publication date on or after the previous year its genre accepted submissions. (2015 for poetry; 2014 for nonfiction; 2013 for fiction; 2012 for graphic narrative). In 2016 we will be accepting submissions of first books of graphic narrative for consideration for the Drake University Emerging Writer Reading, which will be held in April of 2017. Entries may be submitted by the author or the publisher and must include a copy of the published book; a cover letter that includes a brief biography, contact information for the author (including email address), and a statement affirming that this is his/her first book-length publication in this genre. There is no reading fee. Entries must be postmarked by September 15 of the submitting year. Materials postmarked after September 15th will not be considered. Entries will not be returned and will become the property of the Drake University English Department.
The winner will be notified by early February. All entrants will be notified of the results by the end of February.
Authors must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and must agree to attend and participate in the reading at Drake University in April 2015 to receive the award. The following are ineligible for the awards: 1) authors who have published more than one book in this genre through independent, university, or commercial publishers; 2) entries from vanity presses and self-published books; 3) books published earlier than four years previous; 4) current students and employees of Drake University.
Send all materials to:
Drake University Emerging Writer Award
c/o Susan Glaspell Writers and Critics Reading Series
English Department, Howard Hall
2507 University Ave
Des Moines, IA 50311
For questions about the award or the series, please e-mail:
writers [ dot ] critics [@] drake.edu
The Payton James Freeman Essay Award (The “Payton Prize”)
Payton James Freeman was a bright, loving child whose ability to move — even to smile — was stolen by a disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy. Diagnosed as an infant, Payton was expected to live perhaps six months. Instead he fought for five and a half years as his parents worked with doctors and scientists, fundraising in hopes of a cure. SMA ultimately took his life, but his story lives on in all those who continue striving against uncountable odds, and who struggle to put life’s most complex and trying events into words.
SMA is the #1 genetic killer of children under age two. The Freeman Family would like you to learn about SMA and remember Payton as you submit your essays and as we read and celebrate the winning essay.
National Essay Prize: $500, Publication, and a public reading and talk at Drake University
The Freeman Family and the Drake University Department of English invite you to submit outstanding unpublished non-fiction essays of up to 3500 words on themes TBA. (Previous themes have included “After the unhappy ending,” and “The stupid little thing that saved me.”
Students and faculty of Drake University will read all entries and choose the finalists. The winner will be selected by an outside final judge. Previous judges have included Cheryl Strayed and Emily Rapp.
The winner will be awarded $500, published in The Rumpus, and brought to Drake University that February to read from the winning essay and speak at a public event.
The first annual Payton Prize was won by Tammy Delatorre, whose essay “Out of the Swollen Sea” was selected by Cheryl Strayed in 2015. Our second annual Payton Prize was won by Stephanie Anderson, whose essay “Greyhound” was selected by Emily Rapp in 2016.
There is no fee.
Authors must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents and must agree to attend and participate in the reading at Drake University that February to receive the award. Current students and employees of Drake University, The Rumpus, and/or the judge are ineligible for the award.
Drake Undergraduate-Only Essay Prize: $250 and a public reading at Drake University
The Freeman Family and the Department of English invite all current Drake undergraduates (any year, any major) to submit original non-fiction essays of up to 1500 words on the contest’s yearly theme.
The contest is opened for submissions in the last few weeks of the Fall semester, and submissions are accepted throughout the break and J-term, with a deadline in the first two weeks of Spring classes.
The winner will be awarded $250, and will read the winning essay and speak at a public event alongside the winner of the national version of this contest.
Authors must be undergraduate students at Drake University and must agree to attend and participate in the reading on campus to receive the award. All writing must be the student’s own, original work. Writing which was originally done for classes IS allowed. Writing which has benefited from the feedback of peers and professors through an intensive revision process is encouraged. Please direct questions to Professor Amy Letter.