Creative Writing
EnglishCollege of Humanities and Social Sciences

Spring Writing Contests

2018 Contests

Mark Craver Poetry Award | $500

Virginia Downs Poetry Award | $500

Joseph A. Lohman III Poetry Award | $500

Mary Roberts Rinehart Poetry Award | $500

Mary Roberts Rinehart Nonfiction Award | $500

Alan Cheuse Nonfiction Award | $500

Alan Cheuse Fiction Award | $500

Mary Roberts Rinehart Fiction Award | $500

Dan Rudy Fiction Award | $500

Shelley A. Marshall Fiction Award | $500


Contest Submission Guidelines:

1. Mason's Spring Writing Contests are open to all currently enrolled Mason students, graduate or undergraduate. The exceptions to this rule are the Mark Craver Poetry Contest, which is open to MFA poetry students only. The winner of the Joseph A Lohman Poetry contest must be 23 years-old or younger as winners will automatically be considered for the Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award.

2. Students are limited to one submission per contest and must submit a different work for each contest. (A poem or a story cannot be selected as winner of more than one contest.) Previously submitted winning entries cannot be re-submitted. Please check each contest for specific guidlines, such as word/page limit.

3. Students must submit an electronic copy of each submission in PDF format. Electronic copies in another format will not be accepted.

4. Please use the following format for submission emails:

  • The title of the email should contain the student’s name.
  • Each attachment should contain the name of the contest to which the entry is being submitted and the title of the piece.
  • No identifying information other than the entry's title should appear on the submission itself.

Electronic submissions should be emailed to and must be received by the posted deadline.

5. The purpose of these awards is to reward previously-unrecognized work. Therefore, submissions must be previously unpublished.  Submissions will be considered as "published" if they have been accepted for or have appeared in any publication, including student magazines at this or other institutions. Work currently under submission will not be considered to be "published," and is eligible for these awards.

6. At the discretion of the judges, an award may be divided between two or more writers, or, if no submission is found to be of sufficient merit, withheld.

7. An author not granted an award one year may apply in succeeding years but once a writer receives an award, he or she may not apply for that award again. Note: Recieving an honorable mention or runner-up prize in a previous year does not disqualify that student from entering the same contest again. This rule only applies to first-prize winners.

8. Award winners are contacted by email shortly before results are posted, usually in mid-April. With permission of the writer, winning entries will be posted on the creative writing web site and the MFA listserv. All winners will be invited to participate in the English Department Honors Reception held in May.



Contest Judges:

Contest judges are selected and announced ahead of the submission deadline each year. Judges are selected and invited to participate each year by the creative writing director.


Mark Craver Poetry Award: 

Judge: Vivek Narayanan

Vivek Narayanan was born in India and raised in Zambia. He earned an MA in cultural anthropology from Stanford University, and an MFA in creative writing from Boston University. He was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute, Harvard University (2013-14) and a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library (2015-16) for work on his ongoing current project, an experimental “writing through” of the Sanskrit of Valmiki’s Ramayana. Narayanan’s books of poems include Universal Beach and Life and Times of Mr S. A full-length collection of his poems in Swedish translation was published in 2015 by the Stockholm-based Wahlström & Widstrand. He is co-editor of Almost Island ( ), a ten-year old India-based journal, literary organization, and publisher

Virginia Downs Poetry Award: 

Judge: Emily Tuszynska 

Emily Tuszynska’s poems can be found in many journals, recently including The Southern Review, Water-Stone Review, Salamander, and Southern Poetry Review. Her work has been recognized with multiple Pushcart nominations, PRISM International’s Earle Birney prize and a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prize, and has been supported by residential fellowships from the Mineral School, the Vermont Studio Center, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Emily is a Virginia Master Naturalist and lives in Fairfax with her husband, three children, and assorted pets.

Joseph A. Lohman III Poetry Award: 

Judge: Jessica Kallista

Jessica Kallista is an artist, teacher, and curator. She received her MFA in Creative Writing with a concentration in poetry from George Mason University in 2002. In November 2014 she founded Olly Olly, an alternative art space, in Fairfax, Virginia. Jessica has taught collage at the Corcoran School of Arts & Design GW and poetry at George Mason University. She is Gallery Director of Buchanan Partners Art Gallery at the Hylton Performing Arts Center. Through her work as a collage artist, teacher, and curator Jessica seeks to disrupt the isolation of those living in suburbia and elsewhere by creating situations of surprise, play and experimentation while instigating dialogue about gender, sexuality, feminism, spirituality, embodiment, human trafficking, commodity fetishism, and interconnectivity. Jessica’s work has been shown at a variety of venues including Target Gallery, GRACE, The Fridge, Tempus Projects, NoMüNoMü, Fenwick Gallery at George Mason University, Galerie Kritiku, Watergate Gallery, and the Margaret W. and Joseph L. Fisher Art Gallery.

Mary Roberts Rinehart Poetry Award: 

Judge: Thea Brown

Originally from the Hudson Valley in New York, Thea Brown is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. Recent poems can be found in Bennington Review, Conjunctions, Oversound, LitHub, Prelude, and elsewhere. She is the author of the chapbook We Are Fantastic (Petri Press 2013) and the full-length collection Think of the Danger (H_NGM_N 2016). She lives in Baltimore, where she was the 2016–2017 Tickner Fellow at the Gilman School, a 2016 Rubys Artist Project Grant awardee, and the recipient of a 2017 UCross Foundation fellowship.


Mary Roberts Rinehart Nonfiction Award: 

Judge: Nate Brown

Nate Brown’s stories have appeared in the Iowa Review, Mississippi Review, Five Chapters, Carolina Quarterly, and elsewhere. He is the managing editor of American Short Fiction magazine in Austin, TX, and has received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the Vermont Studio Center, the Ucross Foundation, and multiple work-study scholarships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. He teaches creative writing and literature at Stevenson University in Baltimore and at the George Washington University in Washington, DC.

Alan Cheuse Nonfiction Award: 

Judge: Huan Hsu

Huan Hsu is the author of The Porcelain Thief: Searching the Middle Kingdom for Buried China. As a staff writer for the Washington City Paper in Washington, DC, and the Seattle Weekly, he won two Society of Professional Journalists awards and received recognition from the Casey Foundation for Meritorious Journalism. His essays and fiction have appeared in Slate, The Guardian, The Literary Review, and Lucky Peach. He received his MFA in creative writing from George Mason University and currently lives in Amsterdam where he teaches journalism and creative writing at Amsterdam University College.


Alan Cheuse Fiction Award: 

Judge: Sally Shivnan

Sally Shivnan is the author of the short story collection Piranhas & Quicksand & Love. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The Georgia Review, Antioch Review, Glimmer Train, Rosebud, and other journals, and she has works in translation and in audio form forthcoming from The Short Story Project. Her travel writing has been featured in many publications and websites and in anthologies including The Best American Travel Writing. She was the winner of the 2011 Travel Classics International travel writing prize and a Maryland State Arts Council grant, among other awards. She earned her MFA in fiction at GMU and teaches creative writing at University of Maryland Baltimore county (UMBC). She shares her writing and thoughts at

Mary Roberts Rinehart Fiction Award: 

Judge: Zach Powers

Zach Powers lives and writes in Arlington, Virginia. His debut story collection, Gravity Changes, won the BOA Short Fiction Prize and was published in 2017. His work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, PANK, the Tin House blog, and elsewhere. He is the co-founder of the literary arts nonprofit Seersucker Live. He led the writers’ workshop at the Flannery O’Connor Childhood Home for eight years. His writing for television won an Emmy. Get to know him at

Dan Rudy Fiction Award: 

Judge: Christopher Maier

Christopher Maier is a Washington, DC-based writer, event producer, and creative director. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in magazines including Ninth Letter, Sou'wester, Redivider, Image, CityLab, and more. He's the founder and producer of Little Salon, an arts and culture experience that's curated each month in a different home and different neighborhood, aiming to give DCers a non-pretentious dose of the amazing creative talent that surrounds them. Originally from Pennsylvania, he holds a bachelor's in English from Dickinson College and an MFA in fiction from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Shelley A. Marshall Fiction Award: 

Judge: John Copenhaver

John Copenhaver's debut novel DODGING AND BURNING will be released by Pegasus Crime on March 6th. Copenhaver has been awarded an Artist Fellowship from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities for four consecutive years. In 2015, he launched and continues to maintain a crime fiction column for the Lambda Literary website called “Blacklight.” His short fiction has appeared in Glitterwolf Magazine, Roanoke Review, and Gaslight, the Lambda Emerging Voices Anthology. He won the 2015 Larry Neal Writers’ award for short fiction, and was first runner-up in the F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story Contest and the Narrative Magazine Winter Story Contest. He’s a graduate of GMU's MFA program in fiction. He currently chairs the 7-12 English Department at Flint Hill School in Oakton, VA and lives in Washington, DC.



Please email with any questions.


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