Resilience: Today & Tomorrow - 2021 Poetry & Prose Writing Challenge


Resilience: Today & Tomorrow
2021 Poetry & Prose Writing Challenge

In partnership with Art for Justice, PEN America, and the Free Time: Building Community for Incarcerated Writers monthly workshop, the Poetry Center invites writers who are incarcerated across the country to submit poetry or prose (fiction or nonfiction) to our second annual writing challenge for people in prison. This year's theme is Resilience: Today & Tomorrow.

What does it take for incarcerated people to survive prison and hope for the future? What strengths, spirit & optimism are required? How do people in prison build community inside, maintain their own dignity, overcome obstacles & bounce back, or plan for life inside or after incarceration? How do incarcerated people celebrate themselves?  

Entries will be judged by Free Time volunteers and notable writers whose work intersects with the carceral system and/or criminal justice reform. Outstanding work submitted to the challenge will garner cash awards, and a curated selection of works will be read publicly at the Poetry Center in the fall and published on the Poetry Center blog.


 *** This challenge is open ONLY to writers who are currently in prison. ***

Submission Guidelines (entries that do not meet these guidelines will not be read): 

Poetry: up to two poems, 32 lines maximum each

Non-Fiction: one work maximum, 750 words

Fiction: one work maximum, 750 words

Label your submission: poetry, non-fiction, OR fiction



1st Place $300

2nd Place $200

3rd Place $100

Honorable Mention $50


Send typed or handwritten submissions, postmarked by Sept. 15, 2021, to:

University of Arizona Poetry Center 

2021 Poetry & Prose Writing Challenge

c/o Joe Watson

PO Box 210150

1508 E. Helen St.

Tucson, AZ 85721