The Arboretum in Spring




© University of Wisconsin-Madison Board of Regents

Lydia Conklin




© Oliver Bendorf, 2011-13 MFA

Contact Us

Contests Coordinator Sean Bishop
Program in Creative Writing
Department of English
600 N. Park St, H.C. White Rm 6195
University of Wisconsin
Madison, WI 53706

phone: 206-491-1505
fax: 608-263-3709

Helen C. White Hall, home of the Program in Creative Writing




Helen C. White Hall, home of the Program in Creative Writing and the undergraduate awards ceremony


Annual Creative Writing Contests

Every year the Program in Creative Writing awards up to $15,000 to undergraduates and graduate students at various stages in their studies. The following prizes are awarded at the end of the spring semester at a special ceremony and reading. Please read the criteria carefully; most students are eligible to apply for more than one prize. To submit your poems, stories, or essays, please prepare pdfs of your writing samples as specified below, and upload them through the Qualtrics survey links listed below.

All prize applications are due by March 15, except for the ENGL 695 thesis prizes, which are due by April 20.


Awards for Students of ENGL 207: “Intro to Fiction & Poetry”

The Charles M. Hart, Jr. Writers of Promise Awards are given for the best poetry and fiction by students enrolled in ENGL 207: Intro to Fiction & Poetry. Students taking English 207 in either semester of the academic year may submit one story or three poems. Although there is no minimum or maximum word criteria for stories, we suggest you keep fiction submissions between five and thirty double-spaced pages in length. To apply, prepare a single PDF file beginning with a cover page that lists your name, preferred email address, and UW Campus ID#, followed by either one short story or three poems. The file name you use should employ the format "Lastname-Firstname_HartGenre2021," where you replace "Genre" with either "Fiction" or "Poetry," depending on the genre of the manuscript. For example if your name were Lorrie Moore and you were submitting fiction, you would label the file "Moore-Lorrie_HartFiction2021.pdf," whereas if your name were Felix Pollak and you were submitting poetry, you would label the file "Pollak-Felix_HartPoetry2021.pdf." The final deadline for this competition is March 15. Once you have prepared your submission, you may submit it here: [CLICK TO SUBMIT]


Poetry Awards, Open to All UW-Madison Undergraduates

The Program in Creative Writing accepts entries to the Phillip H. Wang Memorial Prizes in Poetry ($500-$1,000) and the George B. Hill Poetry Awards ($100-$500) as a single submission. Read more about each award, below. All entries will be considered for both prizes. To apply for these awards, prepare a single PDF file beginning with a cover page that lists your name, preferred email, and UW Campus ID#, followed by 3 poems. If you wish, you may also prepare a second audio file of yourself reading the poems. For this optional audio file, MP3 format is strongly preferred, though we will accept M4A, WAV, or AIFF formats if necessary. The file names for both the PDF and the optional audio file should use the format "Lastname-Firstname_Poetry2021." For example if your name were Audre Lorde, you would label the files "Lorde-Audre_Poetry2021.pdf" and "Lorde-Audre_Poetry2021.mp3," respectively. The final deadline for both of these competitions is March 15. Once you have prepared your submission, you may submit it here: [CLICK TO SUBMIT]

The Phillip H. Wang Memorial Prize in Poetry ($1,000 winner, $500 runner up) is awarded to the best collection of three poems written by any undergraduate student at UW-Madison, submitted in a campus-wide competition. Since Phillip was a spoken-word artist, special consideration may be given to students who submit audio files of their poems in addition to the required pdf submissions. Interested applicants can read and hear a sampling of Phillip's poems, by clicking this link.

The George B. Hill Poetry Awards ($100-$500) were established in 1951 by Theodore Stempfel, president of Brach's Candy Company, to honor Stempfel’s college friend George. In addition to being a writer for The Daily Cardinal, Mr. Hill was also a poet, so the George B. Hill Awards were established to honor his legacy.


Fiction Awards, Open to All UW-Madison Undergraduates

The Program in Creative Writing accepts entries to the Henry Douglas Mackaman Undergraduate Writer’s Award ($1,000) and the Therese Muller Memorial Fiction Awards ($100-$500) as a single submission. Read more about each award, below. To apply for these awards, prepare a single PDF file beginning with a cover page that lists your name, preferred email, and UW Campus ID#, followed by one short story. The file name for this PDF should use the format "Lastname-Firstname_Fiction2021." For example if your name were James Baldwin, you would label your file "Baldwin-James_Fiction2021.pdf." The final deadline for both of these competitions is March 15. Once you have prepared your submission, you may submit it here: [CLICK TO SUBMIT]

The Henry Douglas Mackaman Undergraduate Writer’s Award ($1,000) was established in 2015. The prize is awarded to the best short story written by a sophomore, junior, or senior, submitted in a campus-wide competition. Read more about Henry Douglas Mackaman at henrymackaman.com.

The Therese Muller Memorial Fiction Awards ($100-$500) were established in 1951 by UW alumna and favorite daughter of Sauk City, Therese Muller, who graduated from UW in 1912. They are given to short stories of particular promise, written by any UW-Madison undergraduate.


Nonfiction Awards
(See Details for Eligibility)

The Program in Creative Writing awards promising writers of creative nonfiction through two separate competitions. The Therese Muller Memorial Nonfiction Awards ($100-$500) are open to any UW-Madison undergraduate student, for any genre of creative nonfiction. The Johanna Garfield Award in Nonfiction Creative Writing ($2,500) is given to the best creative personal essay written by any undergraduate student or graduate student currently enrolled at UW-Madison. Read more about each award and find the submission links, below. If you are eligible for both prizes, please note that you must submit separately to each. The final deadline for both of these competitions is March 15.

The Johanna Garfield Award in Nonfiction Creative Writing ($2,500) was established in 2020, and is open to any current undergraduate or graduate student at UW-Madison who submits a work of creative nonfiction that could be described as a "personal essay," meaning an essay based primarily on the author's lived experience. Before clicking the upload link, please prepare a single PDF file beginning with a cover page that lists your name, preferred email, and UW Campus ID#, followed by one personal essay. The file name should use the format "Lastname-Firstname_PersonalEssay2021." For example if your name were Joan Didion, you would label the file "Didion-Joan_PersonalEssay2021.pdf." Once you have prepared your submission, you may submit it here: [CLICK TO SUBMIT]

The Therese Muller Memorial Nonfiction Awards ($100-$500) are open to any current UW-Madison undergraduate student who submits an essay in any sub-genre of creative nonfiction (personal essay, memoir, lyric essay, travel writing, creative journalism, etc, etc.) Graduate students are not eligible for these awards. Before clicking the upload link, please prepare a single PDF file beginning with a cover page that lists your name, preferred email, and UW Campus ID#, followed by one work of creative nonfiction. The file name should use the format "Lastname-Firstname_Nonfiction2021." For example if your name were Roxane Gay, you would label the file "Gay-Roxane_Nonfiction2021.pdf." Once you have prepared your submission, you may submit it here: [CLICK TO SUBMIT]


Thesis Prizes for ENGL 695 Students

The Program in Creative Writing awards at least three annual prizes of $1,000 or more, for students who have completed ENGL 695 during the current academic year: one for poetry, one for fiction, and one for any genre. Read more about the individual prizes, below. To apply, please prepare a single PDF file beginning with a cover page that lists your name, preferred email, and UW Campus ID#, followed by the most complete draft you have of your ENGL 695 thesis. The file name you use should employ the format "Lastname-Firstname_ThesisGenre2021," where you replace "Genre" with "Fiction," "Poetry," or the like, depending on the genre of your thesis. For example if your name were Lorrie Moore and you were submitting fiction, you would label the file "Moore-Lorrie_ThesisFiction2021.pdf," whereas if your name were Felix Pollak and you were submitting poetry, you would label the file "Pollak-Felix_ThesisPoetry2021.pdf." Other genres you could use include "Nonfiction," "Stageplay," "Screenplay," or "Mixed" for a multi-genre thesis. The final deadline for this competition is April 20. Once you have prepared your submission, you may submit it here: [CLICK TO SUBMIT]

The Ron Wallace Poetry Thesis Prize ($1,000) is awarded annually for the best poetry thesis completed during the current academic year by an English Major with an Emphasis in Creative Writing. The prize was established by Professor Emeritus Ronald Wallace, author of 12 books and founder of UW’s Program in Creative Writing, who retired in 2015.

The Eudora Welty Fiction Thesis Prize ($1,000) is awarded annually for the best fiction thesis completed by an English Major with an Emphasis in Creative Writing. Eudora Welty graduated from UW-Madison in 1929, and over the course of her writing career she received a National Book Award, a Pulitzer Prize, a National Book Critics Circle Award, a Nobel Prize nomination, and many other honors.

The Cy Howard Memorial Scholarship in Creative Writing ($1,000) is awarded annually to an English Major with an Emphasis in Creative Writing, for a thesis written in any genre of creative writing. This award was established by Mrs. Barbara Howard in honor of her husband Cy, who was a graduate of UW-Madison and a writer for film and television.