Essay Press / MFA Book Contest

Essay Press / MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics logoEssay Press / UW Bothell MFA Book Contest

Each year the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics sponsors a book contest with our friends at Essay Press, which is dedicated to publishing artful, innovative, and culturally relevant prose.

The EP/UWB MFA Book Contest publishes manuscripts that extend or challenge the formal possibilities of prose, including but not limited to: lyric essays and prose poems or poetics; experimental biography and autobiography; innovative approaches to journalism, interdisciplinary historiography, criticism, scholarship and philosophy. Simultaneous submissions, multiple submissions, collaborative manuscripts, digital and hybridized text/art manuscripts are all welcome.

The winner of the contest receives an award of $1,000, book publication by Essay Press, and travel expenses for an invited reading at UW Bothell. Our students interview the authors for publication online and have the chance to interact with them at events on and off-campus.

The contest opens each autumn and has rotating judges. This year’s contest is open until December 31 and will be judged by Amaranth Borsuk. For complete guidelines, please visit Essay Press.

photo of Amaranth Borsuk looking into the camera with curly hair and black & white pattern blouse.Amaranth Borsuk is the author of the poetry collections Pomegranate Eater and Handiwork. She works at the intersection of print and digital media with an emphasis on artists’ books, installation, and digital/ print hybrids. Her collaborative books include Abra, an artist’s book and iOS app created with Kate Durbin and Ian Hatcher; As We Know, an erasure collaboration with Andy Fitch; and Between Page and Screen, a book of augmented-reality poems, created with Brad Bouse. Her recently published volume The Book, from MIT Press, traces the interrelationship of form and content in the book’s development, bridging book history, book arts, and electronic literature to expand our definition of an object we thought we knew intimately. She is an Associate Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell where she directs the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics.

Previous winners


The 2021 Contest was judged by Rondaldo V. Wilson.

Jade Lascelles

Jade Lascelles
Violence Beside

Sarah Rose Nordgren

Sarah Rose Nordgren
The Bird Hat Wearer's Journal


The 2020 Contest was judged by Renee Gladman.

Valerie Hsiung
Valerie Hsiung
To Love an Artist



The 2019 Contest was judged by Jill Magi and Ching-In Chen.

Silvina López Medin
Silvina López Medin,
Poem That Never Ends
(Photo credit: Martín Sonzogni)

Yanara Friedland
Yanara Friedland
(Photo credit: Benjamin M Johnson)


The 2018 Contest was judged by Mary-Kim Arnold and Rebecca Brown.

Katherine Agyemaa Agard
Katherine Agyemaa Agard
of color
(Photo credit: Gabriel Woodham)

Kaia Preus
Kaia Preus
The War Requiem
(Photo credit: Amy Stockhaus)