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 from mid-October to late November and has rotating judges. For complete guidelines, please visit Submittable.

Ronaldo V. WilsonInterdisciplinary artist, poet and scholar Ronaldo V. Wilson, Ph.D. is the author of Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man (University of Pittsburgh 2008), Poems of the Black Object (Futurepoem Books 2009), Farther Traveler: Poetry, Prose, Other (Counterpath Press, 2015), and Lucy 72 (1913 Press, 2018). Wilson’s Carmelina: Figures (Wendy’s Subway, 2021) and Virgil Kills: Stories (Nightboat Books, 2022) are forthcoming. Wilson is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, Kundiman, MacDowell, the Center for Art and Thought, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. He is Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at UC Santa Cruz, serving on the core faculty of the Creative Critical Ph.D. Program, and principal faculty of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.

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)