Writing Contests

The Center for Community Writing provides a number of opportunities for writers of all ages, including various writing contests held throughout the year. These contests are opportunities for community members to showcase their writing abilities.

Still Life 2021

As an art form, the still life takes familiar objects and helps us see them in a new way. Poetry, whether the focus is objects, places, or relationships, does the same, so send us your poems on any subject that help us see the world with new eyes. Still Life is a community literary journal open to all Saginaw, Bay, and Midland County residents—or to all visitors to the Saginaw Community Writing Center or Bay Community Writing Center. Submissions will be accepted through July 15, 2021. Click here to view the Still Life 2021 guidelines. 

Past Contests

MFSM "S.O.S." Writing Contest

Who has the authority to interpret the meaning of an artwork? Should it be the artist? Should it be the museum? Or, should it be the viewer? Who is the “expert” when it comes to interpreting what art means? We want to empower YOU to be the expert!

We invited SVSU students and community members to write their own museum label or creative response (poem, creative non-fiction, or fiction piece) to one of the artworks in the “Mark Beltchenko: • • • —— — • • • (SOS)” exhibition and enter to win a $100 prize! To learn more, visit https://www.marshallfredericks.net/sos.html. The deadline was December 15, 2020.

Bay County Poetry Postcard Project

The Bay County Poetry Postcard Contest invited writers to tell us what they think about Bay County by writing a short poem about Bay County’s people, places, or history. This contest was open to individuals who live, work, or study in Bay County. 

"Start with Art—Write!" 2019

Artwork tells a story, and during times of social distancing, it was important that we still turn to the arts and share our voices. We invited you to write poems, short stories, and essays inspired by the pieces in the Saginaw Art Museum’s collection by visiting http://www.saginawartmuseum.org/startwithart. Cash prizes of $75 were awarded in youth and adult categories, and winners received a free membership to the Saginaw Art Museum. The deadline to submit was May 1.

Co-sponsored by the Saginaw Art Museum.

"Poetry Postcard Project"

During the winter of 2020, the Center for Community Writing, in conjunction with the Saginaw Community Writing Center and the Public Libraries of Saginaw, sponsored a Postcard Poetry contest. Individuals who live, work, or study in Saginaw County were invited to submit a short poem sharing what they believe about Saginaw's people, places, or history. Three winners received a $100 cash prize. The deadline for submissions was April 30.

"Saginaw, I Believe" Poetry Postcard Contest (564KB)


Get to Work Flash Fiction Contest—2017 & 2018

In September 2017, we got a call at from The Public Theater in New York. They had found our website for the Saginaw and Bay Community Writing Centers, and they wanted to talk with us about bringing their theater group to perform in our region. They said, “We were looking for places that seem to involve the entire community and are focused on fostering the arts. Based on your website, you seem like the place.” We’re pleased to share that, after a year of conversations, The Public Theater came to Saginaw to do a one-night performance of Lynn Nottage’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Sweat, which tells the story of what happens in a midwestern auto-manufacturing town after the auto industry leaves. This performance was part of a tour The Public Theater did throughout October 2018; they performed this show one night in twenty different cities in the Midwest. Because of our collaboration with The Public Theater on this project (and because we are a writing center that focuses on celebrating our community’s writing), we created a “flash fiction” contest. The theme was “Work.” We were interested in short pieces (500-750 words) that tell the story of work—your best job, worst job, first job, or whatever work might mean to you. Submissions were due, of course, on Labor Day, September 3, 2018.

Still Life Literary Arts Journal and Poetry Contest—2017-2020

In January 2018, our inaugural issue of the community literary arts journal Still Life was released. This first issue was recognized with a First Place Award by the American Scholastic Press Association (an honor that we have received on multiple occasions). Issues feature writing from residents of Saginaw, Bay, and Midland Counties and from visitors to our Community Writing Centers, along with photographs by SVSU art students. Up to three $100 cash prizes are typically given. We accept submissions year-round; for more information and to see back issues, see svsu.edu/ccw/stilllife.

Write Like Roethke Poetry Contest—2018

In celebration of the 2018 Theodore Roethke Poetry and Arts Festival, which took place at SVSU and in the Great Lakes Bay Region in March 2018, the Bay and Saginaw Community Writing Centers accepted poems inspired by Roethke, Saginaw's native son and the only Michigan poet to have won a Pulitzer Prize. The winning entries appear in the 2018 issue of Still Life, found at svsu.edu/ccw/stilllife.

Martin Luther King Jr. Creative Writing Contest—2017

In January 2017, in partnership with the Saginaw Chapter of My Brother's Keeper, the Saginaw Community Writing Center held a creative writing contest based on four quotes from Martin Luther King Jr. The winning entries were printed on posters and displayed throughout the Saginaw region.