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Creative Writing Contests


Part of the Howe Writing Center’s mission is to help cultivate a culture of writing that honors a range of voices and perspectives at Miami. That’s why each semester we host a writing contest open to submissions from any Miami undergraduate or graduate student writers. A group of our student consultants lead the contest process, coming up with the prompt, planning ideas for promoting it, and ultimately judging the entries.

Contest Information

We choose a new prompt each semester, typically one that feels resonant with the campus climate at the time. During the Fall semester, the contest opens in late October and the genre of writing varies. During the Spring, the contest happens around April and, in celebration of National Poetry Month, calls for poems. Entries are judged according to adherence to the prompt, a reflective writer's note, and the piece itself. First and second prizes are awarded, along with a staff choice prize, or, occasionally, an honorable mention. Winners receive prizes plus temporary publication on our website. 

Follow us on Instagram where we first announce our contests. Calls for submission will also be posted to this webpage. We hope to read your work as part of the next contest!

Finally, know that HWC consultants can support your creative writing in consultations. Simply find a consultant with a creative writing background on our staff page and schedule an appointment with them.

Nature Plays a Role: Writing Poetry from Children's Books

Children’s books have long helped young readers to engage with nature through both images and words. The Howe Writing Center’s Spring 2024 writing contest invites Miami writers to produce a poem or poem sequence inspired by a work of children’s literature in which nature plays a role. We have selected a set of children’s books from the Miami Library collection that writers should reference for inspiration, including:

After reviewing the books held on reserve at King Library Circulation Desk, (under Poetry Writing Contest) writers will create a submission (no more than 500 words) inspired one of this book’s elements, whether the artwork, the storyline, the prose, or the themes. The poem(s) must meaningfully engage with the topic of nature or the environment. If writers choose to use a segment of book’s original text, writers should limit this to one line and give credit in the writer’s note. 

Along with the poem(s), writers should submit a 250-300 word writer’s statement outlining what in the book inspired their poem and what choices they made during their writing process.

Submissions are due Friday, April 19.  Winners will be announced the week of April 29.

  • First Place:  $100
  • Second Place:  $75
  • Third Place:  $50
  • Staff Choice:  $50

Prior Creative Writing Contest Winners

Spring 2023

Theme: Golden Shovel

Miami student writers submitted a piece of writing inspired by works found in the University Libraries archives!

1st Prize: “Untited” by Claire Hampton

2nd Prize: “Reflection” by Adeline Roux

3rd Prize: “Becoming You” by Anna Boyer

Staff Choice: “To Know” by Julia Quigley

Fall 2022

Theme: Taboo

Miami student writers submitted a piece of writing evoking autumn, but with a catch: they could not use certain words often associated with the season!

1st Prize: “Demeter in 5 Stages (Acceptance)” by Anna Boyer

2nd Prize: “The Radiator” by Caroline Laird

3rd Prize: “The Editor and The Poet” by Jessica Miller

Staff Choice: “Drifting through the Grove” by Jacob Bitonte

Spring 2022

Theme: Luck + Chance

Miami student writers submitted a piece of creative non-fiction when luck or chance played a role in their lives. 

First Prize: Meredith Perkins, Clovers

Second Prize: Sophia Rakic, Tablić

Third Prize: Olivia Kelly, Canip and Pain

Staff Choice: JoAnn Su, Doubt and Recovery/From The Other Side


colors contest imageTheme: Colors

Miami writers explored through poetry the multiple ways colors intersect with their lives.

First Prize: Olivia Triance, Seasonal Affective Disorder

Second Prize and Staff Choice: Catarina Palmer, Protoanomaly

Third Prize: Ashlee Flora, The Color I Once Assigned to You 


Fall 2021

Theme: Photo Flash Fiction

Miami student writers submitted a piece of fiction where they used their pen as a camera to give us a slice of life, a flash of fancy, a moment of misery, or an instance of insight based upon one of several provided photos. 

First Prize: Em UpDyke, The Family Flowerbed

Second Prize: Sam Fouts, Howling Bones

Third Prize: Dalanie Beach, Liminal Space

Staff Choice: Valerie Senkowski, Dramamine

Honorable Mention: Charles Xie, Travelers

Spring 2021

Theme: Hope and Rebirth

Miami student writers submitted poetry that reflected on what “Hope and Rebirth” meant to them, especially in that current moment, amid COVID-19 during Spring semester.

First prize: Paige Hartenburg, "Flowers for Lily" 

Second prize: Sarah Zimmerman, "When Fears are Validated, Progress Halts"

Staff choice: Alfredo Ascanio, "I Crossed a Bridge"

Fall 2020

Theme: Here and Now

Miami student writers submitted creative nonfiction pieces that considered how issues of tolerance, inclusion, antiracism, social inequality, or COVID-19 have impacted them personally.

Co-first prize: Aiyana White, (untitled)

Co-first prize: Ethan Maguire, "These Walls"

Second prize: Gabe Porter, "Sanitize"

Staff choice: Lauren Racela, (untitled)

Spring 2020

Theme: What We Leave Behind: Sustainability and Disposability

Miami student writers submitted poems about environmental impact, sustainability, and "what we leave behind" both materially and personally.

First prize: Alexander Benedict, "anthem for uneaten candycanes" and "American Doll"

Second prize: Brianna Porter, "They Told Me The World Was Dying"

Honorable mention: Hannah Stohry, "The Sorting Process"

Fall 2019

Theme: Change of Seasons

Miami student writers submitted fiction, nonfiction, and poetry focused on how we experience the world around us when the seasons change, and also on how people, relationships, and cultures change, too.

First prize: T. Mesnick, "Pumpkin Patch"

Second prize: Alexander Benedict, "Fall as an Unsure Haircut"

Howe Writing Center

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2022 Writing Program Certificate of Excellence