2022 Spring Writing Contests

2022 Contests

Alan Cheuse Fiction Award | $500

Dan Rudy Fiction Award | $500

Shelley A. Marshall Fiction Award | $500

Mary Roberts Rinehart Fiction Award | $500

Mary Roberts Rinehart Nonfiction Award | $500

Alan Cheuse Nonfiction Award | $500

Mary Roberts Rinehart Poetry Award | $500

Mark Craver Poetry Award | $500

Virginia Downs Poetry Award | $500

Joseph A. Lohman III Poetry 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, and the Joseph A Lohman Poetry Contest, which stipulates that entrants must be 23 years old or younger because winners will automatically be considered for the Aliki Perroti and Seth Frank Most Promising Young Poet Award (a $1,000 prize awarded by the Academy of American Poets).

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 guidelines, 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. Each entry should be saved with the title of the corresponding award + title of piece. (Ex. Mark Craver Poetry Award_Poem Title).

4. Please use the following format for submission emails:

  • The SUBJECT of the email should be: First Name Last Name_Spring Writing Contest 2022. (Ex. Pat Doe_Spring Writing Contest 2022)
  • Include your G# and First and Last Name in the body of the email (NOTE: If submitting to the Joseph A. Lohman prize, please include your date of birth in the body of the email, too). 
  • Each attachment should be titled with the name of the contest to which the entry is being submitted and the title of the piece (Ex. Mary Roberts Rinehart Poetry Award_Poem Title).
  • No identifying information other than the entry's title should appear on the submission itself.

Electronic submissions should be emailed to hmason2@gmu.edu and must be received by the posted deadline. The deadline for 2022 is March 15th at 11:59pm ET.

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 Therefore, submissions must be previously unpublished.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. Award winners are contacted by email shortly before results are posted, usually in mid-April. Winners will be announced on the creative writing website. 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 administration. In 2022, the judges are as follows:


Mark Craver Poetry Award

Judge: George Abraham

George Abraham

George Abraham (they/he) is a Palestinian American poet, writer, performance artist, and engineer who was born and raised on unceded Timucuan lands (Jacksonville, FL). Their debut poetry collection Birthright (Button Poetry) won the Arab American Book Award and the Big Other Book Award, and was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. He is a board member for the Radius of Arab American Writers, and recipient of fellowships from The Arab American National Museum, The Boston Foundation, and Kundiman. His poetry and nonfiction have appeared in The Nation, The Paris Review, The American Poetry Review, Mizna, and elsewhere. A graduate of Swarthmore College and Harvard University, they are currently a Litowitz MFA+MA Candidate in poetry at Northwestern University.


Virginia Downs Poetry Award

Judge: Aaron Coleman

Aaron Coleman

Aaron Coleman is the author of Threat Come Close (Four Way Books, 2018) winner of the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and St. Trigger (Button, 2016), selected by Adrian Matejka for the Button Poetry Chapbook Prize. Aaron is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the J. William Fulbright Program, the Cave Canem Foundation, and the American Literary Translators Association. He has lived and worked with youth in locations including Spain, South Africa, Chicago, St. Louis, and Kalamazoo. His poems and essays have appeared in publications including Boston Review, Callaloo, The New York Times, the Poetry Society of America, and the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series. After completing his MFA in Poetry and PhD in Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis, he is currently the Postdoctoral Fellow in Critical Translation Studies at the University of Michigan. (Headshot by Andrea Bolivar). 



Joseph A. Lohman III Poetry Award

Judge: Lauren Camp

Lauren Camp

Lauren Camp is the author of five books, most recently Took House (Tupelo Press), which received the American Fiction Award in Poetry and was named a Distinguished Favorite for the Independent Press Award. Other honors include the Dorset Prize and finalist citations for the Arab American Book Award, Housatonic Book Award, and New Mexico-Arizona Book Award. Her work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Poem-a-Day, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, and The Los Angeles Review, and has been translated into Mandarin, Turkish, Spanish, Serbian and Arabic. www.laurencamp.com






Mary Roberts Rinehart Poetry Award

Judge: Nicole Cooley

Nicole Cooley

Nicole Cooley grew up in New Orleans and is the author of six books of poems, most recently OF MARRIAGE (Alice James Books 2018) and GIRL AFTER GIRL AFTER GIRL (LSU Press 2017), as well as three chapbooks. Her poems have appeared most recently in POETRY, PLUME, TUPELO QUARTERLY and ON THE SEAWALL She is currently completing a new manuscript titled TRASH. She is the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Queens College-City University of New York where she is a professor of English. She lives outside of NYC with her family.






Mary Roberts Rinehart Nonfiction Award

Judge: Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn

Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn

Alysia Li Ying Sawchyn is the Editor-in-Chief of The Rumpus and currently lives in the DC area. Her debut essay collection, A Fish Growing Lungs, was published by Burrow Press in June 2020 and was a finalist for the Believer Award. You can find her on Twitter @happiesterwerther. (Headshot photo credit: Eric William Carroll). 









Alan Cheuse Nonfiction Award

Judge: Ashon Crawley

Ashon Crawley

Ashon Crawley is a writer, artist and teacher, exploring the intersection of performance, blackness, queerness and spirituality. He is associate professor of Religious Studies and African-American and African Studies at the University of Virginia. He is author of Blackpentecostal Breath: The Aesthetics of Possibility (Fordham University Press) and The Lonely Letters (Duke University Press). He is currently at work on a book about the practice of contemporary black life as a spiritual disposition, posture, gesture and relation and a short story collection and a nonfiction volume—both about the Hammond B3 organ, the Black church and sexuality. A MacDowell interdisciplinary arts fellow, he is at work on an art installation featuring light sculpture and sound that serves as a memorial to blackqueer spiritual life, musicianship and erasures from official narratives. All his work is about otherwise possibility.


Mary Roberts Rinehart Fiction Award

Judge: Kathy Flann

Kathy Flann

Kathy Flann is the author of four books, including two short story collections -- Smoky Ordinary, winner of the Serena McDonald Kennedy Award (Snake Nation Press/Valdosta University) and Get a Grip, winner of the George Garrett Fiction Prize (Texas Review Press). Get a Grip was named one of the Best Books of the Year by Baltimore Magazine, and it won the short story category of The Best Book Awards, The International Book Award, and the National Indie Excellence Award. Her advice columns for aspiring writers appeared quarterly for several years at Stay Thirsty Magazine, and in 2021, Stay Thirsty Publishing collected them into a book entitled Write On: Secrets to Crafting Better Stories.  Her most recent release, a humor book – How to Survive a Human Attack: A Guide for Werewolves, Mummies, Cyborgs, Ghosts, Nuclear Mutants, and Other Movie Monsters (Running Press) – was featured in The New York Times/Wirecutter article, “The Gifts We Want to Give in 2021.” https://www.kathyflann.com/


Alan Cheuse Fiction Award

Judge: Brian Castleberry

Brian Castleberry

Brian Castleberry's first novel, Nine Shiny Objects, was a NYT Editor's Choice, an Indie Next selection, long-listed for the PEN/Faulkner Award, and winner of the Library of Virginia Book Award in Fiction. His work has been published in Narrative, LitHub, the Southern Review, the LA Review of Books, and elsewhere. He teaches and directs the creative writing program at the College of William & Mary, and is currently at work on his second novel, Dream of Fire, to be published by Mariner Books in 2023.




Dan Rudy Fiction Award

Judge: Ilana Masad

Ilana masad

Ilana Masad is a queer Israeli-American writer of fiction, essay, and criticism whose work has appeared in The New Yorker, New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, NPR, StoryQuarterly, Tin House's Open Bar, 7x7, Catapult, Buzzfeed, and many more. Masad received an MA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is now a doctoral student there. All My Mother's Lovers is Masad's debut novel. (Headshot credit: Joshua A. Redwine).







Shelley A. Marshall Fiction Award

Judge: Xhenet Aliu

Xhenet Aliu

Xhenet Aliu’s novel, Brass, was awarded the biennial Townsend Prize in 2020, the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year First Novel Prize, was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and was long-listed for the 2018 Center for Fiction First Book Prize. Numerous media outlets, including Entertainment Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle, Real Simple, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, named Brass a 2018 best book of the year. Her debut story collection, Domesticated Wild Things, won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction. Aliu’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, Glimmer Train, Hobart, Shenandoah, LitHub, Buzzfeed, and elsewhere, and she has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation, and a fellowship from the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, among other awards, including a special mention in the Pushcart Prize anthology. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of North Carolina Greensboro.