Creative Writing
EnglishCollege of Humanities and Social Sciences

Spring Writing Contests

2017 Contests

Mark Craver Poetry Award | $500

Virginia Downs Poetry Award | $500

Joseph A. Lohman III Poetry Award | $200

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 | $250


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 Therefore, submissions must be previously unpublished.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.

Submission Deadline: Wednesday, March 22, 2017 at 5pm.


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: Sheila McMullin is the author of daughterrarium from Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2017. She sits on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. She co-edited the collections Humans of Ballou and The Day Tajon Got Shot from Shout Mouse Press. She volunteers at her local animal rescue and holds an M.F.A. from George Mason University. Find more about her writing, editing, and activism online at

Virginia Downs Poetry Award: Sarah Ann Winn’s writing has appeared widely in many publications, online and in print. Her first full length poetry collection, Alma Almanac, won the Barrow Street Book Prize and will be published by Barrow Street Press in 2017, and she is the author of four chapbooks: Portage (Sundress Publications, 2015), Haunting the Last House on Holland Island, Fallen into the Bay (Porkbelly Press, 2016), Field Guide to Alma Avenue and Frew Drive (Essay Press, 2016), and Ever After the End Matter (forthcoming, Hermeneutic Chaos Press). Other work has appeared in such journals as Codex, Five Points, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Quarterly West, and Tupelo Quarterly. Having earned her MFA from George Mason University in 2014, Sarah currently serves as Reviews Editor for Tinderbox Poetry Journal and is the founder of Poet Camp, a roving residency for women writers. She lives in Manassas, Virginia, where she teaches poetry workshops and lives with her husband, two lovely dogs, and one bad cat.

Joseph A. Lohman III Poetry Award: Scott Weaver’s collection of poems, Home & Ghost, was released in 2016 from Urban Farmhouse Press. His poems have appeared in Rattle, The New York Quarterly, DIAGRAM, UCity Review, and other journals. Home & Ghost is his debut poetry collection. Scott earned his MFA in Creative Writing from George Mason University, where he was a Heritage Fellow, and worked as a staff writer for C-VILLE Weekly. He lives with his wife, Kelli Jo Ford, and their daughter Cypress in Richmond, Virginia, and teaches English at Reynolds Community College.

Mary Roberts Rinehart Poetry Award: Kate Partridge is the author of Ends of the Earth (U. of Alaska Press, 2017) and the hybrid chapbooks Intended American Dictionary (MIEL, 2016) and Guide to Urban Reindeer (Essay Press, 2017). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Pleiades, Blackbird, Colorado Review, Yale Review, and Third Coast. She is a Dornsife Fellow at the University of Southern California and earned her MFA from George Mason.


Mary Roberts Rinehart Nonfiction Award: Melanie McCabe is the author of His Other Life: Searching For My Father, His First Wife, and Tennessee Williams, to be published this fall by the University of New Orleans Press.  She is also the author of two poetry collections: History of the Body, (David Robert Books, 2012) and What The Neighbors Know, (FutureCycle Press, 2014.) Her essays and poems have appeared in Shenandoah, The Georgia Review, The Massachusetts Review, Best New Poets, and numerous other journals.  She has been a finalist for Shenandoah's Graybeal-Gowan Award, Mid-American Review's poetry contest, the Bright Hill Press Book Prize, the Wabash Poetry Prize, the Pablo Neruda Prize, and the May Swenson Award.  She will be a speaker at this year's Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.

Alan Cheuse Nonfiction Award: Judith Adkins has published prose poems and essays in Ruminate, The Colorado Review, and The Normal School.  She holds a PhD in history from Yale, and a BA in English and history from Duke University, in addition to her MFA in nonfiction from George Mason.


Alan Cheuse Fiction Award: Elizabeth Word Gutting is a writer in Washington, DC, and serves as program director of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Paper Darts, and Juked, among others. She most recently received an artist fellowship from the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. She was a Fulbright Scholar in South Korea and received her MFA in fiction from George Mason University.

Mary Roberts Rinehart Fiction Award: Kirsten Clodfelter is the author of Casualties (RopeWalk Press, 2013) and the forthcoming children's book series, Feminist Fairytales. A graduate of GMU's MFA program (2010), her fiction has been published in The Iowa Review,Narrative MagazineHunger MountainstorySouth, and Smokelong Quarterly, and her essays have appeared in BrevityCosmopolitanGood Housekeeping,Parents, and, among others. The co-founder of Rise Marketing, Inc., she lives and writes in the Midwest. 

Dan Rudy Fiction Award: Scott Garson’s debut collection of stories—Is That You, John Wayne?—was taken up for promotion on B& in conjunction with the Discover New Writers program and was a Small Press Distribution Bestseller. A graduate of GMU’s MFA Fiction program, he lives in central Missouri and has work in or coming from The Threepenny Review, Conjunctions, The Kenyon Review, American Short Fiction and others. He edits Wigleaf.

Shelley A. Marshall Fiction Award: Matt Burriesci is the author of Nonprofit and Dead White Guys: A Father, His Daughter and the Great Books of the Western World. His stories have appeared in numerous literary magazines.  He began his carer at the Tony Award-winning Chicago Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier, and later served as Executive Director for both the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.  During his time at AWP, he helped build the largest literary conference in North America, and he is a national advocate for literature and humanities.


Please email with any questions.


Print Friendly and PDF